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Do kids who talk a lot have problems learning in school?
Q: We have five children—the oldest is 20 and the youngest is 2. My youngest talks a lot and understands what you tell her, and you can understand her. Recently someone told me that since she talks a lot she would have learning problems in school. Is this true? The person learned this at a child development class! This person’s son, who is older than my daughter, doesn’t talk half as well.
A: Probably what your friend heard in the child development class is that a child who talks in school when children are not supposed to be talking will annoy her teacher and classmates and get into trouble.

Certainly, appropriate talking is not likely to cause problems in school. Quite the opposite is true: children who talk well tend to be good learners, make friends easily and have a successful school career. So don’t let a remark that may have been made out of jealousy cause you to discourage good language development in your daughter. You can tell the person who made it that girls learn to talk earlier than boys, so that may explain the difference between the skill levels shown by the two children. If you tell her that, you’ll not only be protecting the relationship, but you’ll also be 100 percent accurate!

An interesting thing about your daughter’s early verbal competence is that you are more likely to find that in first or only children. The commonsense view is that later children talk earlier and better “because they learn from the older kids.” That view runs counter to the facts, however. In the early stages, children learn to talk through contacts with adults, not with older children. Perhaps, since your oldest is 20, there may be enough of a gap between this daughter and her next older brother or sister that she has been more like a first or only child in terms of language stimulation.

Whatever the case, be delighted that she is verbal. Talk, read and sing to her. By what you say and do, encourage her interest in, and use of, words.