Taking Face Time Back To Its Roots
By Hallie Bulkin
The first time you look into your childs eyes, there is an immediate connection. A bond between parent and child. Communication largely occurs through a child developing a blueprint for the shape of your face, the sound of your voice and how you smell. This gives them a sense of belonging, comfort, security and they begin to trust you as their caretaker to get their needs and wants met.
Bottom line, babies are drawn to human faces. Faces are a large part of how they communicate with their world in the early years. Faces hold meaning.
Think about it, your face tells a lot about you. You recognize a person by their face. You can tell if someone is happy, sad, mad, or feeling other types of emotions by the look on their face. So it is no wonder, faces are an important part of the early years of development. So much that I recommend you as a parent, teacher, and/or caregiver focus on buying toys that have faces.
What would a world be like without faces? Look at the picture below for example (it’s the original picture from above without faces). Do you feel the same when looking at these animals below as you do about the animals at the top of this article? Are you starting to realize the effect that a face has on your connection with the world around you?
Why such a emphasis on Face Time? (And no, I am not talking about FaceTime on your iPhone…although I do love that feature!) I am talking about how much time your child spends looking at faces during the day (and preferably not faces on TV for hours on end). The reason is primarily because your child understands a lot more than they can communicate in the early years.
Faces communicate so much about a person, so next time you are looking to buy a toy for your child (or someone elses), buy them a toy with a face. It will give them more opportunities to work on language development and improve communication skills.
Here are a few examples of toys to look for that have faces:
- Animals – stuffed, plastic, bath toys
- Blocks – there are blocks that have eyes and/or a mouth; did you ever think about animating blocks?
- Puppets – Ohhh you don’t want me to get started. I LOVE puppets. They are so animated and kids LOVE them. We can feed a puppet and talk about the actions and the foods the puppet is eating. We can talk about prepositions (mouth is opening/closing, etc). This is a topic for another article…I could go on all day about how much puppets ROCK for language development and to improve communication skills! They are one of my favorite tools for language and speech therapy.
- Vehicles – the ones your kids ride in and the small toy cars they roll around with their hand. They sell these with faces on them (yes even that big red car your child can ride in, how fun!)
- Blocks/Legos – some of these have faces but if they do not that is okay. Get some lego people so you can bring the legos to life!
So why do I feel so strongly about toys with a face? It’s simple. We should encourage communication as much as possible in our young children. When a toy has eyes to see, ears to listen, a mouth to “talk” (make believe with me for a minute here) then it animates the toy. The child can talk to the toy and the toy can talk to the child.
We can also talk about the emotions on the toy. Is it smiling and happy? Frowning and sad? What color are the eyes? There are great opportunities to talk about and describe the face and its features as well. ENDLESS language opportunities come with toys that have faces!
Do your child’s toys have faces? Comment below and let me know if they do and how you use them in play!
Hallie Bulkin, MA, CCC-SLP