As parents, you probably instinctively know that it’s important to talk to your child. However, it may be even more important than you think. One study found that talking with your child is correlated with a range of positive outcomes including a broader vocabulary and stronger language development and reading comprehension. It even appears to change how a child’s brain works.
But having a back-and-forth conversation with your child may not always be easy. Here’s how to talk to a child in a way that will benefit both their development and your relationship with them:
Conversation skills for kids
One of the important things that your child learns when you talk with them is the simple act of having a conversation. Here are some of the skills you may want to reinforce:
- How to start conversations with greetings like, “Hi!”
- How to get someone’s attention in a polite way, like, “Excuse me…”
- How to use eye contact
- How to have a give-and-take in conversation
Note that this is all about talking with your child rather than to your child. It’s not always easy—children have short attention spans and may get frustrated when they can’t express themselves. That said, they only develop a better attention span and stronger expression through practice. It’s particularly important for parents to reinforce this from an early age.
Practice and prompts
As a parent, you can support your child’s linguistic and brain development by doing any of the following:
- Asking them questions and listening to their answers: The more specific the question, the better. So instead of asking, “How was your day at school?” ask, “What was your favorite thing you did today?” Be sure to listen to their answers and ask follow-up questions.
- Read your child stories: Ask them questions about which parts of the story they enjoy and which characters are their favorites. This is a great opportunity to sound out words with your child as well.
- Include your child in conversations with others: This may involve summarizing what another person has said or breaking down what they said into language your child will understand.
- Play pretend with your child: Children learn so much through play, and you can join in on their imaginative worlds. This is a great opportunity to ask your child questions and to encourage your child to tell stories.
The bottom line is that research shows that conversation with young children—especially with the family at home—has a tremendous impact on brain development. Whether it’s encouraging your infant to speak or reading stories to your toddler, this kind of interaction is invaluable to a child’s development.
Knowing how to talk to a child is so vital. At My Second Home Early Learning Center, our caring and nurturing team is helping students grow every day. We provide a safe, secure, welcoming learning environment for children of all skill levels and abilities. As a Christian day care and preschool, we follow Biblical principles in everything we do. Contact us now to learn more.