During your usual rides from here to there, use the time for conversations with your child. Oral language skills are built much more through interactions between people than by watching TV, working on a computer, or listening to a radio. These interactions offer children the chance to learn about words, how we use them, and how people use words and behavior in social situations. So, strike up a conversation! Even when you feel tired and can’t think of a topic, you can use your surroundings as a starting point. Just look out the window – the topics are there for the taking.
- your voice
- your child’s voice
- car radio (optional)
Step 1: When you and your child are buckled in and on a ride, strike up a conversation about the things that can be observed outside the windows. You might point out the sign to a familiar store and start a conversation about a trip to that store. Talk about the weather and ask your child some questions about it. Talk about the plan for your outing: what will happen first, next, etc. Ask your child to help develop the plan.
Step 2: Encourage your child to be active in the conversation by asking him questions, giving him time to respond and keeping the conversation going.
Step 3: You can make your conversations while commuting a special bonding time between you and your child. You have each other’s undivided attention, so sit back and enjoy the conversation!
To make it easier, start a conversation with your child by asking him questions about a topic he really likes.
Listen to his response. Encourage your child to expand on his ideas by asking another question or by saying, Tell me more.
To add some challenge, introduce new and unusual vocabulary. As you add new vocabulary to your conversation, give examples that help to define the new word. For example, on a windy day, you might say,
It’s breezy outside. Look at the wind moving the leaves on the trees.
I can’t wait for dinner at Uncle Joe’s. He makes the most scrumptious foods. Do you know what scrumptious means? It means yummy and delicious.
When stuck in traffic, you might use comparisons that help your child picture the words in his head. For example, you might say,
We are creeping along like a caterpillar.
Explain that you are saying the traffic is moving very slowly.
Whatever you talk about, keep the conversation going by getting your child to tell you more. Continue to add new vocabulary words when you can. After the trip, ask your child to tell you the sequence of things that took place.