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Help Your Young Child Build Good Conversation Skills

During the holidays, did you notice that it’s often hard for a young child to keep a conversation going? When visiting family or friends asked a question, did you hear mostly one-word answers?

Young children need to learn that good conversation skills are an essential part of growing up. These skills build confidence and enhance school and social success. Here are five simple ways to help your young child become a good conversationalist:

  • Make sure she understands that good conversation includes listening, speaking, and asking questions. Then practice together. For example, when you ask “Did you have a good day at school today?” and she answers “yes,” ask “What was the best part of the day?” Questions like this keep the conversation focused and flowing.
  • Model active listening by nodding or commenting. Encouragingly say, “Tell me more! It sounds like that was really fun.”
  • Stress the importance of eye contact when having conversations. I tell my 1st grade students “If I can see your eyes, then I know you are really listening.”
  • Remind him not to interrupt. He should wait for his turn to speak until you are finished talking.
  • Model how to clarify and respond in conversations. For example, “I didn’t know that you were already learning to skip count. Do you like it?” Or, “How do you know so much about dinosaurs?”

The ability to demonstrate good listening skills, and to exchange thoughts in meaningful conversation, will get your child noticed—in a very positive way!


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