Helping Your Child Become a Reader -Part 7
Chatting with Children
For children ages 1 to 6
Continue talking with your older child as you did with your baby. Talking helps him to develop language skills and lets him know that what he says is important.
What to Do
The first activities in the list below work well with younger children. As your child grows older, the later activities let him do more. However, keep doing the first ones as long as he enjoys them.
Talk often with your toddler. When feeding, bathing, and dressing him, ask him to name or find different objects or clothing. Point out colours, sizes, and shapes.
Talk with your child as you read together. Point to pictures and name what is in them. When he is ready, ask him to do the same. Ask him about his favourite parts of the story, and answer his questions about events or characters.
Teach your toddler to be a helper by asking him to find things. As you cook, give him pots and pans or measuring spoons to play with. Ask him what he is doing and answer his questions.
Whatever you do together, talk about it with your child. When you eat meals, take walks, go to the store, or visit the library, talk with him. These and other activities give the two of you a chance to ask and answer questions such as, “Which flowers are red? Which are yellow?” “What else do you see in the garden?” Challenge your child by asking questions that need more than a “yes” or “no” answer.
Listen to your child’s questions patiently and answer them just as patiently. If you don’t know the answer to a question, have him join you as you look for the answer in a book. He will then see how important books are as sources of information.
Have your child tell you a story. Then ask him questions, explaining that you need to understand better.
When he is able, ask him to help you in the kitchen. He might set the table or decorate a batch of cookies. A first-grader may enjoy helping you follow a simple recipe. Talk about what you’re fixing, what you’re cooking with, what he likes to eat, and more.
Ask yourself if the TV is on too much. If so, turn it off and talk!
Talking and having conversations with your child play a necessary part in helping his language skills grow.
Adapted from U.S. Department of Education
Office of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs
Helping Your Child Become a Reader
Washington, D.C., 20202