Whether building relationships, supporting language development, or pushing learning, conversations with children are important. (And fun! And funny!) Every afternoon, I walk my dog Holly to the bus stop to wait for my daughter. At the stop, there are a handful of other parents and their pre-K and toddler children. My favorite is a four-year-old who chatters nonstop:
Erin: Can I pet Holly?
Me: Sure. But watch out—she’ll snortle all over you.
(She pets Holly who sniffs and snorts at her hands and face.)
Erin: She snortled me!!!
Me: She sure did snortle you! Does your dog do that?
Erin: No, my dog is biiiggg.
Me: Really? How big?
Erin: I could bring her to your house for a playdate so you could meet her. And I could bring my brother and we could play on your swing set. What are you doing later, cuz I could come play!
That’s an easy conversation to have, because Erin loves to talk and loves my dog. But what about quieter children? Here are a few tips from Making the Most of Classroom Interactions (MMCI) instructors on how to build and extend conversations with children who need more support:
Let me know how these suggestions go--and please do add your own tips for engaging children in conversations.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published on November 4, 2013, but has been updated to keep the content accurate and engaging. Many thanks to Jenn Fowler, Kathy McKechnie, and Pam Parmenter for sharing ideas.
It’s Dual Language Learner Celebration Week! Every year in the U.S., the amount of young children who live in a household where a language other than English is spoken has been steadily increasing. As of 2016, about one-third of children under age 8 – over 11 million children – are dual language learners (DLLs).
As an infant classroom teacher, you know that talking to babies is important. For instance, you tell the infants in your care what they are looking at (“You see the new block basket on the shelf!”). You label objects (“You have the red ball!”). And you describe events that take place in the classroom (“The tray just fell off the table! That scared you.”). These are all examples of talking with babies. Why, then, can it be so challenging to do this consistently in the classroom?
A few years into teaching early childhood, I applied to work at a school that does incredible work in the local community. I was thrilled to get an interview but realized very quickly that, even though the environment was supportive and the students were wonderful young people, I was much too intimidated to work there.