Responding and extending children’s language

small_toddlerCommunication begins early. The baby cries; the mother picks her up and cuddles her. The toddler says “Doggie”; Grandpa responds with, ”Yes, the doggie’s name is Max.” The preschooler runs to the slide and says, “Look at me!” The child care provider comments, “Wow! You climbed those steps quickly.” The kindergartener waits quietly beside his father. The bank manager says to the child, “Thank you. You were very patient while your dad signed all these papers.”

Each day, in large and small ways, all of us build the language skills of young children. We talk, we play, we explain, and we demonstrate how the world works, giving children new vocabulary and conceptual language. But this is more than just language building. This is also about demonstrating how we communicate positively with others, an important skill as our children get ready for school. Listen carefully for your child’s meaning as well as his words. You will be amazed at the knowledge your child already has gained.  Watch for opportunities to extend his learning in words and actions.  Your own positive communication style will be an example he can carry with him in life.

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