From the moment you hold that precious bundle in your arms, to the day they take their first step, say their first word, and enter the classroom, your child’s brain is continuously learning. Literally from day one, the sights and sounds your child is consistently exposed to play a critical role in their development, particularly their language development.

As a parent, you may have heard of speech and language milestones. These are stages at which your child is able to hear, understand and express themselves using language to communicate. The language babies learn and eventually use is generally that of their parents, but it can be any language they are exposed to up to the age of six months. This is because, by six months, babies have already learned to recognize the sounds of their own native language.

Typically these milestones are linked to specific age groups. For example, at birth, your little one will respond to factors such as pitch, stress, and the pace of your voice. Then, as they mature, they learn to recognize the spoken word and, at six months, should start to coo and babble, showing they are beginning to learn a language.

The ability to learn language is already present at birth for every baby. In fact, some neuroscientists say babies start learning sooner, from within the womb. According to a study by Kathleen Wemke published in Current Biology 2009, an unborn fetus can memorize and recognize the sound and pattern of the language spoken by its mother and replicates this when crying! Of course, your child won’t enter the world with a full set of vocabulary– that takes time as the brain matures. However, this ability to learn is most pronounced during your baby’s early developmental years, when your child’s brain develops at its fastest rate.

From the day a baby is born, its brain quadruples in size over the first five years. Although, at birth, a baby’s brain is only a quarter of its intended adult size, this doubles in the first year and reaches nearly 80% of adult size by age three. By age five, its brain is 90% fully grown. During this period, your child absorbs information like a sponge, which is why learning the fundamental basics of language during these formative years is so important.

How Does Language Development Work?

All brain cells have appendages called dendrites that link to other brain cells. The point at which each dendrite connects is called synapses, and it’s here that electrical signals pass one brain cell to the other.

When the synapses are stimulated repetitively, it forms a permanent neural pattern or pathway that allows information to be transmitted quickly and aids the learning process. So it makes sense to say that repeated positive learning experiences can significantly enhance your child’s brain development and language skills. That’s why playing repetitive language flashcard games makes so much sense!

child learning at desk
Photo by Jerry Wang on Unsplash: How do you use language flashcards for kids?

What Are Language Flashcards?

Language flashcards, like any other flashcard, are small colored cards used to improve language skills. Language flashcards typically have a picture or shape on one side with the associated word or alphabet letter represented above or below.

How Do Flashcards Help The Brain?

As a parent, you’re probably asking yourself, how do language flashcards work? The answer is simple. Using language flashcards for early development aids the brain’s active recall process, enhances metacognition, and as a result, increases your child’s confidence levels.

Furthermore, boosting the brain’s ability to recall information using some of the best vocabulary flashcards will improve your child’s understanding of their language. And, make it easy for them to apply this acquired knowledge when needed.

Lastly, the more your child uses language flashcards, the more likely the information will move from their short-term memory to long-term memory, where it’s stored and remembered.

What Are The Major Benefits Of Flashcards?

 The benefits of language flashcards can be seen in several ways. These include:

Flashcards Engage Active Recall

When your child looks at language flashcards, they engage in a mental process called active recall when trying to think of the correct word or alphabet letter. This creates strong neural pathways (neuron connections) that aid with memory. In addition, the constant repetition when using flashcards creates multiple memory recall events, which helps with language retention.

Flashcards Engage Metacognition

Metacognition, also known as the act of self-reflection, involves asking yourself how the answer you gave compared to the answer on the flash card. Did you know the answer? Were you partially right or totally wrong? Using some of the best alphabet flashcards or language flashcards can help your child develop their metacognition skills as they learn to judge their performance based on the number of cards they remember. Using metacognition skills creates permanent memories and provides positive learning outcomes.

Flashcards Improve Memory Performance (Spaced-Repetition)

Spaced repetition or spaced learning is where learning sessions occur with intervals between training. Short bursts of training, according to research, are considered a more effective way of learning than one single lesson. This is what makes learning with flashcards so effective. For example, using flashcards to teach your child language concepts such as the alphabet, in short, repetitive lessons promotes long-term memory formation, which is more beneficial than trying to instill this information in a one-off lesson.

Confidence-Based Repetition

Flash cards also allow information to be broken down into manageable chunks that can be separated and reviewed individually. This means that children can focus on the concepts they aren’t confident in more frequently and review those they are confident in occasionally. This learning technique optimizes and improves memory performance, similarly to spaced-repetition.

example of alphabet flashcard
Image by Vix MSF from Pixabay: Example of a language flashcard used to help children learn the alphabet and how to read basic words.

Are Language Flash Cards Appropriate For Preschoolers?

 As a parent, you may wonder whether this form of learning is appropriate for children of preschool age, and the answer is a resounding yes! Engaging your child in fun, early learning activities stimulates and motivates a natural self-curiosity that encourages them to learn more. Furthermore, introducing language concepts using things they enjoy, such as toys, patterns, or colors, is an excellent way of getting them interested in the world around them. This is especially true when appealing and vibrant language flashcards like the ones in stock at the Strong Minds store are used.

Benefits of language flashcards for preschoolers include:

  • Improves visual memory
  • Creates awareness of their surrounding environment
  • Improves meta-cognition
  • Engages active recall and develops strong memory skills
  • Stimulates independent thinking
  •  Encourages identification of objects
  • Enhances confidence
  • Helps confidence-based repetition
  • Improves their motor skills

How To Use Language Flashcards Effectively for Toddlers

As you can see, language flashcards are a fun, playful way of maximizing repetition, which is powerful for improving memory skills. As parents or educators, you know that learning through play is important for young children. Therefore it makes sense that using language flashcards alongside playful teaching techniques can be an effective, interactive teaching tool.

Of course, using language flashcards to teach kids of school-going age makes sense, but how do you introduce language flashcards to toddlers? This is a question many parents raise when researching what is the best way to use language flashcards.

Below we have collated some basic steps you can use to introduce language flashcards for early development in your toddler.

Step One

Our language flashcards depict the letter or word at the top with the associated picture below. Select an age-appropriate set of language flashcards and sit facing your child.

As you show your child the flashcard, repeat the word or letter accompanying the image. This targets proper language development in young children. Remember, repetition is key.

Step Two

As your child gets older and remembers the information, when you repeat the word, ask your child to copy the words or letters you say. Providing a visual cue stimulates both visual and auditory learning.

Step Three

Once your child recognizes the words or sounds (this will take time and practice), you can progress towards asking them to produce the relevant word or letter according to the picture depicted.

Hold each flashcard so your child can see it clearly, and wait for approximately three seconds. You won’t need a timer, just count to three in your head. This gives your child three seconds to consider the flashcard and provide an answer. If they answer correctly, place the card to one side in the ‘right answer pile’. If their answer is incorrect or they don’t give an answer, place the card in the review pile.

Once you have finished going through the language flashcards, you can review the incorrect flashcards again. Remember to include lots of fun and encouragement during each flashcard session, as children retain information better when they don’t realize they are learning!

When your child has mastered the flashcards, you can practice them occasionally to ensure they remember the information. Then, as your child develops and progresses, you can use language flashcards with written words to help teach them to read and write.

kids learning together
Image by 14995841 from Pixabay: There are key steps to follow when aiming to teach children using flashcards.

Typical Language Flash Card Activities For Preschoolers

An important aspect of using language flashcards is the actual flash rate. Using a flash rate of 0.5 seconds per card when showing your child the flashcards ensures the information is unconsciously absorbed by the cerebellum (part of the brain that controls cognitive function, memory, reasoning, and language). Maintaining this fast pace during each flashcard session improves your child’s ability to identify and understand better.

Here’s how language flashcard activities boost a child’s early learning development.

  • Object search – identification and name recall
  • Days of the week and months of the year – memory and recall
  • Colors – identify colors in the surrounding environment
  • Alphabet – repetition helps with memory and language development

How To Include Language Flashcards Into Your Daily Routine

Language flashcards can be used to teach almost any topic relating to early years development. They’re also easy to use in any setting, home or school, and can be incorporated into playtime or homework time to help easily develop their memory and classification skills.

Below are some flashcard tips to keep things interesting and engaging because a motivated child is an attentive child!

  • The vital thing to remember when using flashcards is to keep each session fun and interactive.
  • Take regular breaks between flashcard sessions, spaced-repetition is crucial.
  • Ensure you provide rewards and praise for a job well done. These could be free rewards like high-fives, hugs, or your child’s favorite activity.
  • Keep those brain cells pumped with a healthy snack before a flashcard session.

Fun Interactive Ways To Use Language Flash Cards

 Often we are asked by parents and educators what is the best way to use language flashcards? Our answer is always the same– in any fun way imaginable! Because language flash cards are super versatile, they can be incorporated into many activities. To illustrate how to do this, we have provided three examples below.

Naming Game

Stick the flashcards to the items they relate to in the home or classroom. Whenever you use the item, point and say its name. This will help your child with memorization and identification skills.

Flashcard Bingo

This game is perfect for small groups of two or more. Set out 6 to 12 flashcards in a row and give your child a set of stickers. Then call out a word, and if your child spots it in their group of flashcard pictures, they can put a sticker on it. The first person to tag all their flashcards is the winner and gets a treat.

Speedy Gonzales

This language flashcard game is great for improving fluency. Select a group of flashcards your child is familiar with and include one or two that are new. Then stand or sit in front of your child with a space between you. Show each card quickly to your child and ask them to answer as fast as possible. If they don’t answer or get it wrong, move on to the next card – speed is the key here. Toss each used card over your shoulder for added fun and dramatization! You needn’t worry about your cards wearing out – the durable design of our flashcards enables kids to be kids when learning. Get physical, keep things fresh and never worry about needing replacements.

child holding flashcards
Photo by Atikah Akhtar on Unsplash: Flashcards can help children learn and retain information in several ways.

Incorporating language flashcards into your child’s everyday activities significantly and positively impacts their learning and language development. However, remember to be creative and fun during each flashcard session to ensure each learning opportunity is beneficial and doesn’t become a drag! Lastly, every child is different and therefore responds differently to learning. Always follow your child’s lead. For example, if they don’t respond well to flashcards, trying another way to supplement their language knowledge is also a great idea.  

Head on over to the Strong Minds Lab and check out our stunningly illustrated range. Our free ring sets let you switch up your decks to keep the learning rolling. Unlock the power of knowledge for your child today and pick the pack that suits your style!

Featured image by Anilsharma26 on Unsplash