Children’s first words are eagerly anticipated and celebrated by their parents and others in their lives. Their first words reflect the context in which children live, words that are heard frequently, and things that may be important to children (Hart, 1991; Hoff-Ginsberg, 1992). There is some evidence to suggest that young children’s language development varies by situational context and in direct response to what is spoken to them by their parents (Sabbagh & Callan, 1998; Snow, 1984). In this chapter, we explore the possibility that children’s first words may also provide insights into important aspects of their lived spaces in early childhood education and care settings.
Words known: "The words that the most educators recorded that the infants understood were: nappy (9), eat (9), outside (8), push (8), dog (7), water (7), lunch (7), drink (7), sleep (7), hat (7), and wait (7). Most of these concepts were also recorded by most parents as well."
Words spoken: "According to the educators, the words spoken by the most children were uh oh (6), daddy (5) and mummy (5). The next most spoken words (4) were social words (bye bye, hello, thank you), onomatopoeic words (meow, moo, quack, woof woof) and the noun, ball. There were other words that were listed by parents that were not in the top list for educators: baby (6), grandma (6), drink (5), and no (5). These words identified by educators and parents capture common daily events (e.g., welcomes and farewells, playing with and reading books about animals) and people in homes and ECEC settings.