EduKids Early Childhood Education Centers

Talking With (not to!) Children…

Posted on: October 17, 2011

Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

Talking builds language and thinking skills. 

 That’s a fact.

We talk with our children every day.  We talk with them face to face.  We talk with them front seat to back seat on our many car rides.  We talk to our children from one room to the other when everyone is busy.  We talk with children personally and on the phone.  Talking with your child takes up incredible amounts of time in each day – and that is just the “talk” that we hear!  We all think about our children each day and sometimes practice our spoken words; This is what I am going to say when I see them at home!  I can’t wait to tell her about going to the mall for her birthday!

We talk to little ones and big ones with purpose; directions “Come to the table to eat.”, instructions “Now pull the flap over and stick it on the Velcro to close up your sneaker.”,  to give rules “Wait at the corner and look both ways before you cross the street.”  We talk to celebrate “Hurray!”, and we talk toshare “I have the funniest story to tell you!”  We say “yes” and “no” a lot.

All of this teaches language and thinking skills.

The National Institute for Literacy offers some talking – language building – tips:

  • Mealtimes and other routines are great times to talk with children.
  • Ask questions that encourage a child to think – questions that involve recalling events, predicting things, using imagination and explanation.
  • Teach children conversations – conversations should go back and forth with each person responding to the other, listening while waiting their turn to speak.   High eye contact is part of conversations.
  • Extend conversations with children.  Use triggers ; “W” questions (who, what, why, when, where), offer additions to conversation (I saw him too, I saw him with the puppy in the yard), add attention words that let children know you are listening (wow!  I can’t believe it!  That’s funny.)
  • Language should include rich, varied words that you want children to learn to understand and use.
  • Expand on a child’s language by repeating it with extensions; add descriptive words and details.
  • Use words correctly that a child uses incorrectly without attention to the developmental mistake i.e. child: Sneakers hurt my foots.  You:  I didn’t know your sneakers hurt your feet!
  • Add to and build on a child’s ideas and verbal expressions.
  • Read out loud to children every day and talk about the story.
  • Make it a point to personally speak with each child each day.

We teach language and thinking skills each day through talking with our children.

Our words are endearing, thoughtful and kind.  Our words can also be callous, sharp and critical.  Our children hear them all.  Our children will think about them all.  Our children will use the words, tones and gestures that we model.  Talking with your child teaches your language and reflects your thoughts.

Listen to your children talk.  You will hear yourself.

-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

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