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A child's vocabulary blooms in nature



Open the door to open up all new ways to learn


Spending time outdoors will have a tremendous positive impact on the growth of your child's vocabulary and speech development.

That's the finding from recent research conducted and shared by the University of Northhampton in Great Britain.

But it's not just a professional philosophy held by those from "across the pond," so to speak.

Speech and language pathologist, Jennifer Brady of Hudson Valley Speech & Swallowing Therapy in New Windsor, said that she finds it extremely beneficial to conduct therapy sessions with her young clients outside when the weather, and the opportunity, allows.

"It's more engaging. It brings a different dynamic. I love doing therapy outdoors," Brady says.

The university's research, led by Tanya Richardson who is a lecturer on early childhood education, didn't just focus on children who may be facing specific challenges, but on your children's speech development in general.

READ MORE: Time to get outside!

Richardson says that the vocabulary a child possesses by the age of 5 can be an indicator of future achievement.

Brady, who has been in private practice since 2010, says that indoors the presence of computers, tablets and televisions can actually limit a child's exploration, in addition to being a distraction from what's occurring outside of one's immediate attention; the observation and discussion of which leads, in part, to speech development.

"There's a different attention level and focus. It's like a whole different kid outdoors," Brady says. "They look to adults more and are asking questions, rather than being preoccupied with what is in their immediate space."

The announcement of Richardson's findings addressed that.

"Many children today are leading far more enclosed lives than previous generations, as educators must look for more creative ways to give children quality outdoor learning experiences in order to enhance children's language," Richardson says. "This research found that adjective, verb and exclamation usage was higher in a natural environment. This richness in language, over a time, will support children to develop their language skills."

READ MORE: Make a big difference with a small garden

Brady said she has seen this in action with the children she works with, as well as with her own two young children.

"They know what a 'door' is by now. They know what the 'floor' is by now. They don't know what everything is outside," Brady says of the myriad opportunities for exploration and discovery offered in nature. "There are animals outside, there are bugs outside. They are constantly looking and asking for words to describe what they can't see inside. You're not going to see a squirrel run by inside."