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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL refine this repetition of vowels and consonants to repeat the sounds heard in the language spoken in their proximity. Infants respond to higher frequen- cies; thus it is important to talk to infants using infant-directed speech, commonly known as par- entese (or motherese or caregiverese), a singsong, higher-pitched speech that attracts young children. To learn language, it’s not enough for you to just talk nonstop in a singsong voice; young children need to hear task-centered talking accompanied with appropriate facial expressions and gestures or pointing. Task-centered talking, a term coined by David Sousa (1998), is a running narration about what the child is doing or what is being done for them (feeding, dressing, or bathing). It helps young children hear the rhythm and cadence of language as well as exposes them to vocabulary and syntax. It describes what children see and what is happen- ing in their environment. It helps connect meaning to what is happening around them (Sousa 2006). Hearing is a sense crucial for spoken language acquisition. Children’s hearing should be checked periodically by a physician, especially if their lan- guage skills do not meet developmental milestones. i n Fa n t   &  t o d d l e r  a c t i v i t i e S support hearing ›   use words and simple sentences to describe what  infants and toddlers are doing and to describe what  you are doing with them, whether diapering,  dressing, or taking a walk. Your voice patterns will  establish a beginning for understanding language.  use task-centered talking. ›   use a singsong and higher-pitched voice to hold  infants’ attention and help them learn language.  Sometimes talk normally and sometimes whisper to  let infants hear the difference in volume, speed, and  pitch of language. ›   echo infants’ and toddlers’ verbalizations back to  them to help them learn. infants babble the vowels  and later the consonants of the language spoken  around them. echoing reinforces their attempts at  verbalization. ›   play music that is restful before naptime and livelier  during playtime, but don’t have music on all the  time. infants can block out continuous music, much  as adults stop hearing background music. Music  boxes offer a pleasant sound as infants look at  mobiles or a baby gym. ›   Sing to infants often. Sing using a high voice, then  repeat using a normal or low voice. don’t worry if  you can’t carry a tune. infants will love the sound. ›   use nursery rhymes to let infants and toddlers hear  the cadence and rhythm of rhyming words. exagger- ate and vary voice pitch in reciting nursery rhymes. ›   have a variety of rattles, balls, and toys that make  a noise when they move. this encourages the child  to shake, roll, or pull to hear the noise. ›   Many toddlers enjoy a jack-in-the-box and respond  to both the sound of the music box and the sound  as the box opens and the clown pops out. Windup  toys often make sounds. ›   When you hear environmental sounds like a fan,  thunder, or the washing machine, mimic the sound,  and explain what it is. encourage older infants and  toddlers to repeat the sound. as you read books or  play with toys, incorporate sounds such as a duck  quacking or a car rumbling. Seeing At birth, infants can see only things that are about eight to twelve inches away from their face, just the right distance for them to see the face of the person holding them. And even then, that face is blurry! Their eyes are receiving visual informa- tion, but their brains have not yet developed the receptors needed to see clearly. Their eyes develop rapidly, and soon they learn to identify caregivers by sight. After a few months, infants can follow moving objects and turn and look when they hear a sound. They can see objects that are farther away, see the differences in colors, and begin to acquire d e v e l o p M e n t   o F   t h e   S e n S e S   15 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL