Thursday, July 22, 2010

Narrative Skills (3/3)

This is the last posting in my "mini series" on narrative skills. For the past couple of days I have been giving suggestions on what parents and caregivers can do to help children develop narrative skills. Here is my last suggestion:

Talk with children

I know it seems simple, but as adults, we often take for granted the conversations we have with young children. By talking with your child, you are helping them develop the comprehension skills that will help them understand what they read. After all, isn't that what reading is all about - getting an understanding of what the author is saying. It's not just about pronouncing all the squiggles on the page properly.

As an example, think of yourself learning another language. If you don't know the word for something, it can make it really challenging to keep up with a conversation. You may find yourself pointing and using gestures the same way your child does. Also, as your child gets older, all this practice in talking will pay off. They will be great speakers (remember dreaded public speaking?), great readers, and generally more confident. With babies, sometimes you may feel weird doing all the talking because they aren't speaking back to you, but you are helping them understand the world around when you talk to them.

Here are some examples of when you can talk with your child during your day:

- when they wake up (good morning)
- getting dressed (first your head, then your arms)
- eating ( BLANK your favourite food?)
- on the change table (tell them what you're doing - you can even throw in a song or rhyme if your baby gets fussy)
- bath time (wash this arm first, then the other one...)
- at the grocery store (we need to get carrots, onion and chicken)
- Tell your children stories. Allow time for your children to reply.
- Encourage your children to tell you about things.
- Listen patiently and carefully as they talk. Ask questions.
- Ask your children to tell you about something that happened during the day.
- Talk about new words with your children.
- Let him tell you about a picture he drew.

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