Tot Talk

This article describes how to talk to your young child in a way that encourages them to develop language skills.

What's "old hat" to you can be new and exciting to your child. When you talk about everyday experiences, you help her connect her world to language and enable her to go beyond that world to new ideas.

What to do:

1. As you get dinner ready, talk to you child about things that are happening. When your two- or three-year-old "helps" by taking out all the pots and pans, talk about them. Which one is the biggest? Can you find a lid for that one? What color is this one?

2. When walking down the street and your toddler stops to collect leaves, stop and ask questions that require more than a "yes" or "no" answer. Which leaves are the same? Which are different? What else grows on trees?

3. Ask "what if" questions. What would happen if we didn't shovel the snow? What if that butterfly lands on your nose?

4. Answer your children's endless "why" questions patiently. When you say, "I don't know, let's look it up" you show how important books are as resources for answering questions.

5. After your preschooler tells you a story, ask questions so you can understand better. That way children learn how to tell complete stories and know you are interested in what they have to say.

6. Expose your children to varied experiences - trips to the library, museum, or zoo; walks in the park; or visits with friends and relatives. Surround these events with lots of comments, questions, and answers.

Source: Helping Your Child Learn to Read, U.S. Department of Education

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