Being an effective communicator is an important component to everyday life, which is why helping your child build oral language skills is vital to their development. Teaching little ones to effectively communicate verbally is an important step in growing up. Below are several benchmarks for children entering kindergarten:
- Politely converse with peers and initiate conversation with adults
- Show a steady increase in vocabulary
- Use adjectives in conversation
- Communicate specific needs, such as “I am hurt” or “I need to use the restroom”
Though there are many communication skills for children to learn, incorporating some of these activities will aid their progression:
- Read, Read, Read - Reading to your child is an excellent vocabulary building exercise. Encourage your child to ask questions about words that he or she does not understand. Be sure to take time to pause while reading to ask critical thinking questions such as “Do you think that character made the right choice?”
- Be the Example - Remember that when you communicate with others in front of your child, you are setting an example. When children observe adults following the rules of conversation (taking turns talking, speaking in calm tones, not interrupting), they will imitate.
- Incorporate New Words - Children are constantly absorbing new words and phrases. Use these new words in context during a regular conversation. This repetition, along with providing examples to show how the word is used in a sentence, will not only help your child commit the word and its definition to memory, but will also encourage your child to use new words when talking with others.
- Play “I Spy” - Playing “I Spy” with your child will help him or her develop spatial awareness and learn to describe location, color, and size. Encourage your child to add more details to the game by listing certain attributes such as “I spy something green on the floor near the table.”
- Talk About Feelings - When your child is upset, ask him or her to describe their feelings. Helping to identify specific emotions and learning to handle them is a very effective communication tool for children and adults alike.
- Tell Stories - Set aside some time to tell stories with your child. Begin by telling your own short, imaginative story, then encourage your child to do the same. Ask questions once the story ends, like “What color was the giant fish?,” or “What would have happened if this character did this instead?” Asking questions will help your child focus on recalling specific elements of the story and providing more clarification.
As children progress through their education, the ability to clearly articulate ideas becomes more prevalent and follows them into adulthood. All children learn at their own pace, but be sure to encourage their learning and growth by taking some time each day to help foster these communication skills.
Visit the Fairmont Early Childhood Education Pinterest board for more great ideas for your young learner!
Contributed by Rebecca Stokes, Fairmont Private Schools
Image by Karate of Mansfield