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.
Across the nation, teachers learning about CLASS are asked to narrate their actions and sportscast their children’s experiences in order to support and encourage healthy language development. Hearing this, many teachers may wonder, “Will people think I’m crazy if I start talking to myself in the classroom?”
The answer is no. Self- and parallel talk are beneficial strategies for teachers to engage in because they strengthen language rich environments and enhance vocabulary development, all while supporting effective relationship building between teachers and children.
I’m often asked how teachers can improve the quality of their interactions around Instructional Support. That’s good! What’s not “good” is that we can’t just focus on one thing. We should consider how ALL the CLASS dimensions need to be in place in order to really provide effective interactions for Instructional Support.
So, it’s June and you have just wrapped up the year with your students. They have made tremendous progress over the course of the year. The routine of the day flows naturally, the expectations about what is and isn’t appropriate behavior is fairly clear to all of them (and to you), and you leave the school year feeling confident that they are ready for the new challenges that lie ahead. You go into the summer months looking forward to a much needed break, but also looking forward to your new group of students in the fall.