The Handiness of Gesture for Children's Learning

Sep 09, 2021 315

My dad’s side of our family is nearly 100 percent Italian. As a result, I grew up immersed in Italian-American traditions, including large family gatherings with a lot of food and laughter, mispronouncing words like mozzarella (“mut-za-tel”), and most importantly for this post, learning to talk with my hands.

I know it’s a silly stereotype that for many Italian Americans may not be true, but for my family, it’s right on: Many of us do use our hands a lot when we talk, including me. For a while, I was a bit worried about passing along my animated manner of speaking to my children, but then again, a large body of research highlights the power of gesture for communication, especially in infants and young children, and its importance for learning.

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