Conversation overheard in Target ( Toddler and Mother on the next aisle)

Toddler: “Mommy, I heavy!”  “Mommy, I heavy!”
Mother: “Are you saying you are heavy?”

Toddler: “No, I heavy.”

Mother: “Is that can heavy?”

Toddler: “Yes. Mommy I heavy.”

Mother: “Oh, the can is heavy. Are you saying you are strong?”

Toddler:”Yes, I heavy.”

Mother: “Yes, the can is heavy and you are very strong!”

Toddler: “I want that.”

Mother: ” Do you want the hot dog buns?”

Toddler: “Bums, bums, bums”

Mother:” Do you want the hot dog bunnnns?”

Toddler: ” Yes, Mommy- bunnnnnnnnnnnnnns!”

Mother: “We need hot dogs to go with those buns!”

Toddler: “No, I want bunnnnns!”


According to Dr. Kathy, Hirsh-Pasek, Temple University Lefkowitz Professor of Psychology and Director, Infant Language Laboratory the research shows that we should:

Talk with infants, but let them drive the conversation.
Infants and toddlers build their language and learning through interactive, responsive and meaningful environments. The amount of language babies hear alone will not breed language learning or later literacy. What counts is responsive language where caregivers are:
• Talking with not talking at
• Expanding on what the child says and does
• Noticing what the child finds interesting and commenting
Adults who take turns in interactions with young children, share periods of joint focus, and express positive emotion provide children with the foundation needed to facilitate their language and mental growth. Stimulating and responsive parenting in early childhood are considered the strongest predictors of children’s later language, cognitive and social skills.


Children playing in a push car. An instance wh...

Children playing in a push car. An instance where “vroom” may be used during play in early language development (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Most children learn how to listen, speak, read, and write from birth through grade three. They typically begin to use

literacy as a learning tool in the middle to the end of third grade.”  There is a concern when children come from

homes where conversation is not encouraged.  What can parents and teachers do?  Do you agree with the Post University

Blog?  How do the prior topics from Inspired Educationalist relate to the 6 activities in the Post Blog?

Blog – Post University: 6 activities to improve children’s language development.

There’s a really interesting article on color naming and young children.  Since naming colors is included in every Preschool teachers repertoire, it’s interesting to note that the teacher’s language is an important factor in this task. The take home message:  watch your tongue and pay attention to the order of  your words.

A wise old owl sat on an oak; the more he saw the less he spoke:

The less he spoke, the more he heard;

Why aren’t we like that wise old bird?”

What can you learn about young children by listening?

Have you given thought to the concept that when young children hear judgement words (lovely, nice, beautiful, good, bad, naughty, mean) they often internalize and personalize these words?  For example, if a young child hears “That’s not very nice.” it is felt as “I’m not very nice.”  How can we move from using judgement words?  One way is to practice using descriptive and clear language  that focuses on the behavior and not the child. By saying “Biting hurts” you describe the behavior and its consequences, it is clear and not judgmental.  By saying “Ouch, that hurt Will.” You are showing empathy for the child who was hurt and helping children see the impact of their actions in language they understand.  If we value language as a powerful teaching tool, we will be able to use language to support and guide young children through daily life in the Preschool.

I recently read an article in Scientific American Mind, May/June 2012 about language development in young children.  Did you know that to tune their speech, young toddlers rely on different feedback than adults?  As adults, we subconsciously listen to our own voice to tune pitch, volume, and pronunciation. Young children just learning to talk do not.  Research has found that they do not begin to listen to their own voice until they are much older, instead relying on the adult to give them feedback.  The real take home message from this research is that “social interaction is important for the development of speech.” (Ewen MacDonald 2011)  You can read the article below.


In her book, Use Your Words:  How Teacher Talk Affects Children’s Learning, Carol Garhart Mooney asks:  Can you think of a time when a child was trying to tell you something important but you missed it because you focused on the wrong thing?  What clues did the child give you that might have helped?  What questions might you have asked to get at the child’s concerns?