Friday, December 28, 2012

The "Art" of Conversing with Children

Many consider holding conversations to be a primary teaching technique of early childhood educators. Everyone, however, can practice techniques to carry on meaningful and facilitative conversations with young children that foster language development during play. Facilitating language and higher order thinking skills can be intentionally and explicitly implemented in an implicit way during play. 

Research shows that teachers and caregivers tend to display “verbal domination” in their conversations with young ones.  Many tend to limit conversation to giving direction and instructing on a concept.  The discussion, then, is not a discussion at all—it tends to be linear (one-way questions, one-way response) rather than reciprocal (open-ended questions with two- or three-way responses between adult and child; Dickinson et al, 2004).

Caregivers and teachers can assess their verbal interactions with children by:
            -Using open-ended questions—the more the better!
            -Describing the child’s actions as they play—adjective 
            -Repeating what the child says and add a little more 
             information—build on discussion the child initiates! 
            -Commenting on an object and describe its function, 
             size, shape or other meaningful attribute.

Be sure to reflect not only on the quantity, but also on the quality of conversation!

This blog adapted from Promoting Oral Language Development, Center for Literacy and Disability Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

This blog post is also published Positively Napervillea printed guide of community events, volunteer opportunities and local lore. The publication is distributed to 35,000 homeowners by the first of every month. 

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