Have a conversation with your child today. Boy, that sounds easy… maybe? Talking at or to someone isn’t the same as talking with someone. Obviously young children aren’t the best conversationalists, but in order for them to learn how a conversation works (back and forth interaction), and to hear more words in and about their environment, you need to talk with them.
So how do you have a conversation with a preverbal, or at least pre-sentence-forming, baby or toddler? The key is pausing to give your child a chance to respond, whether that is with words, facial expressions, or hand motions (pointing to a toy or picture in a book). Look at your child while you speak, and be expressive! Maybe your infant opens her eyes wide and makes different shapes with her mouth, or starts to squawk when you lay her down on a changing table. Talk to her about what you’re doing and see how she responds. When she pauses, you talk again. By taking turns and reacting to her reactions, you are demonstrating how conversation works, including the listening part.
These early interactions build highways in the brain, making connections between sounds and words, which she will eventually speak. The more words she knows and can use comfortably, the easier it will be when it comes time for her to read those words on a page.
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