You are the one who teaches your child to talk and to communicate. You begin doing it from the time she is born. You do it when you smile and tell her how cute she is. .
You do it by asking her what things are when she is under the age of 1. You may not recognize the things she says but make some comment about what she might be saying.
You talk about how she feels by talking about being tired hungry, happy and sad when she is under the age of 2. Encourage her to express these kinds of feelings. You want to make sure she learns how to talk about her feelings.
You teach her about communication when she plays and shares her toys with others when she is under the age of 3. Be sure she has many opportunity to play with other children even in this difficult time period of the pandemic. These social skills are important to encourage and they promote healthy living habits.
By the time she is 4, she will want to be involved in adult conversations you have, will be making up stories, and will discuss things that she likes or does not like. Encourage her be a participant.
Her communication skills are significantly influenced by her interaction with you. Your conversations with her teach her that this time is valued.
Even when you are reading to your child, we know that you are helping her learn to talk, as well as learning to think and remember. Ask her relevant questions about the story line and its characters. Ask who they are, what they are doing, what they did before that and, particularly with old favorites, what they will be doing next.
The goal is to encourage your child to talk. If she learns to talk with you, she learns to talk with others at the same time.
For example, when you are planning dinner tonight, think about what you can talk about that will allow you a chance to include her in the conversation. Did you go somewhere she can talk about? Did she talk with grandma on the phone? Did you see the cow down the street or the neighbor’s dog chasing a ball? Ask her about any of these things and this will help her fee included in this special way.
This is a chance to have a fun conversation and to share information with someone who is interested in anything you have to say. This is a great way to encourage her to think for herself and learn words to tell you about it.
When she says something that is especially appropriate, be sure to say something to her about it. For example when your child asks if this character is the same one in another book, compliment her on ability to remember the other book. We all need to look for ways to complement our children. They remember the things we notice and try hard to repeat this success.
Your child learns from your compliments and from your conversations. These are more ways you are being your child’s first teacher. Good job.
Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. For more information, email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-681-2250.