As your child moves beyond the toddler years her language skills improve and attention span lengthens. These developmental advances now make it possible to hold sustained conversations. Instead of talking in simple phrases, which may have been more appropriate for her when she was a toddler, you can now express complete ideas.
Following is a list of suggestions that will help you and your child make the most of your conversation time together.
- It is vital, when speaking with your child, to use proper grammar and vocabulary. However, do not repeatedly correct her. This can be very discouraging! Simply model appropriate language as she learns to construct sentences and develop her vocabulary.
- Because preschoolers are beginning to understand the passage of time, you are no longer limited in your conversations to the present. You can talk together about things that happened yesterday, or discuss future events.
- Preschoolers can talk about abstract concepts such as ideas about God, love, truth, and death. Although her ideas may be somewhat amusing, don’t laugh or ridicule her thoughts. You may inhibit her from speaking her mind and sharing her thoughts in the future. She wants and deserves to be taken seriously.
- It is during the preschool years that some children become fascinated with “potty words.” It is best if you can remain calm and give as little attention to these words as possible. A strong reaction from you may only encourage their use.
- Encourage your child to play with nonsense words and rhymes. If she can have fun with words, it will help build a love of language
- Use elaboration to increase vocabulary skills. If your child says, “Me see Daddy!” add new information to the sentence and encourage her to keep talking. “Yes, Daddy is coming up the driveway in his big blue truck! I can see him, too. He has been at work today.”
- Questions are a great way to encourage conversation. “Do you think Daddy is going to want spaghetti or hamburgers for supper?” “Will you tell Mommy about your trip to the park?”
- Whenever possible make eye contact when you talk with your child. This lets her know you are genuinely interested in what she is saying.
- Listen as well as speak. Take time to really listen to what your child is trying to tell you. If she gets overexcited and stammers and stutters, ask her to slow down and let her know you are there to listen.