- Sarah Gough
- Monday, February 22, 2021
It's really hard to wait when you have something exciting to add to a conversation -- even for adults! For eager and busy young children, this requires a lot of self control that they are still in the early stages of developing. But the conversation skills of active listening, taking turns, speaking clearly, and recalling information will be so important throughout their lives as they form relationships, ask for what they need, and learn from others.
The best way to help children build these skills of attentiveness and self control is through practice and role play.
How will I know if my Kindergartner has met the SC ELA Standard for Communication?
- They practice taking turns listening to others and speaking clearly
- With a little help, they can recall or collect information to ask or answer questions -- individually and in a group
- They explore how ideas or topics are shown in different formats and how those formats might influence understanding
- They can identify a speaker's purpose
- They use appropriate images and illustrations to support discussions and presentations
Activities and Multimedia
- Practice conversation skills in fun ways by taking turns interviewing each other or talking about your favorite things. To avoid interruptions, try rolling a ball back and forth. Only the person holding the ball should speak before rolling it back to the other person, each adding one comment or question at a time. Check out a set of Family Table Topics, a fun mix of age appropriate questions specially designed to engage kids in the art of conversation.
- Make a conversation train to practice staying on topic. Using a magnetic train set, choose a topic your child is interested in and take turns adding one train car to the track for each thing you add to the conversation. Whenever you say something off-topic, tip the train off the track! If you don't have a train set, you could also do this with building blocks, trying to see how tall your tower can get without falling off topic.
- Grab a stack of picture books. (click here for personalized recommendations!) Before reading one, look through all of the illustrations and have your child make some observations and inferences about what the pictures are telling them. Then read the story. Afterward, ask some simple questions to see how well they recall what happened in the book. Did it match up with what they predicted when they examined the illustrations?
- Incorporate narration into your daily learning. A big part of the Charlotte Mason method of education, narration means having a child say back to you what they just learned, in their own words. Narration helps children learn to pay close attention to what they are hearing, reading, seeing, or studying -- and really make it their own, moving it from the short-term to long-term memory.
- Play draw what you hear, telephone, and other games to practice listening carefully, recalling information, and using images to support discussions. Watch the videos below for instructions.
Model the Conventions of Respectful Conversations
Like everything else in life, children will learn communication skills by observing and imitating the behavior of the adults in their lives. We all want to raise children who are respectful, good listeners, and effective communicators. But I am definitely guilty of forgetting some of these conversational conventions, especially when I'm busy and trying to multitask. It can be difficult, but try to model good communication skills by:
- Giving your child your full attention
- Making eye contact when they are speaking with you, and perhaps getting down on their level
- Asking questions and using phrases such as "Really? And then what happened?" to show your interest
- Summarizing what they tell you to check that you understand
- Listening until they are finished and trying not to cut them off or change the subject
These tips and a lot of other great information about conversation skills for young children is available on the Australian parenting website Raising Children.
Visit Richland Library's SC Education Standards page for lots of information and activities to help school age children meet educational standards in math, science, reading, and more.
Books to Read
The titles below will help you and your child understand and develop good communication skills. Want us to pull books for you? Contact us at 803-799-9084 and request to have books sent to your nearest Richland Library location.