While some say laughter is the best medicine, it turns out that it’s not so bad for learning either! A new French study found that humor helps toddlers learn. In the study, Rana Esseily and her colleagues designed an experiment to see whether using humor impacted the learning abilities of 18-month-olds. During the study, each child watched an adult using a tool to grab an out-of-reach toy. In one group, the adults played with the toy after retrieving it. In the second group, the adults immediately threw the toy on the floor after getting it. This made half of the toddlers laugh.
When the research team reviewed the data, they found that the toddlers who laughed were able to repeat the action themselves more successfully than those who didn’t laugh, as well as those who were included in the control group.
Young Children Give Us Permission to Be Silly
We laugh a lot in our classes. A lot. Children somehow remind us to laugh and smile and notice the little things in life. Take this child. He can’t stop laughing at what his dad does.
Children develop a sense of humor over time as they learn what is and isn’t funny—and when it is appropriate (or not) to laugh. With classes in over 70 countries, we know a thing or two about families and children around the world. We know, for instance, that every child speaks music and laughter sounds the same in any language. And, to a child, funny things can be found anywhere—blowing dandelions, made-up words, knock-knock jokes, chasing the dog, and even—sometimes—mommy’s “angry face.” (You know it’s true.)
On average, children laugh about 200 times every day. Silliness is a great way to evoke laughter and foster the development of humor (and help kids learn, too!). So, we include a lot of it in class each week, including singing songs with silly words (guli, guli, guli), playing one-bell jingles with our feet or on our head, and even a surprise tickle. All that laughing encourages a child’s physical, emotional, and social health. Plus, it’s a lot of fun and can be a developmentally appropriate way to motivate, engage, and redirect children during the early years.
Try out some of our favorite musical jokes and see if you can get a chuckle out of the kids in your life!
Contributed by Lisa Camino Rowell who admits to laughing with her young kids so much that tears fall.