Chatting with children is a great way to give them lots of examples of how we use words to share ideas and get information. The words adults speak to children make up the language “input” that children need to learn new words and ideas. The more input adults give children, the more opportunities children have to learn how to express themselves and understand what others are saying.
What Research Shows
- The more words that adults speak to children, the larger children’s vocabulary.8,9
- When teachers promote back-and-forth conversations with children, children show greater complexity in their speech.10
- When teachers use high-quality conversations in the classroom including using uncommon words, asking children questions, and commenting on their responses, children show better language development.11,12
Working with Infants and Toddlers
- Talk through or comment on routines (e.g., when washing hands, “We are washing our hands. We are making lots of big bubbles.”).
- Comment on children’s actions or objects and events (e.g., “Billy is drawing with the red crayon.”).
- Respond to infants’ nonverbal communication with words (e.g., “I see you reaching for the blocks. Would you like to play with the blocks?”).
- Ask questions and pause for answers. Provide the answers for preverbal children.
- Expand on children’s words (e.g., “I heard you say, ‘Cheese’. Would you like to eat more cheese?”).