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Using Language to Learn: Listening and Talking

Preschoolers learn about language by listening and talking.

Start a conversation with your child by asking a question that has no right or wrong answer: "What did you think when you saw the tall tower you built?"

Help your child become a creative thinker by asking, "Suppose that..." "What do you think..." "What if..."

Encourage your child to talk with older and younger family members. A child who has lots of opportunities to talk will learn how to put ideas into words.

Help your child choose a few special television shows that are just right for children of the same age and interests. Watch with your child and talk about what you see and hear. "Are those lions like the ones at the zoo?" Ask questions to find out what she is learning. "Does our family do things like the family in the show? How are we different?"

Use television wisely. At family mealtimes, talk and enjoy each other's company. Make a list of things your child can do instead of watching television, such as looking at books, playing with brothers and sisters, or drawing pictures.

Preschoolers learn about language by watching and listening to you.

Think and plan out loud so that your child can see and hear you using language to solve problems or make plans. "Hi Elliott. Are we still on for basketball?" "Great! I'll meet you at the park."

Visit and talk about interesting places. Go to the library, the park, or a museum. Talk with your child about what you see during the visit. Ask questions about what he sees. When you return, suggest that he tell a relative or friend about the trip. "Grandpa might like to hear about the giant insects we saw at the museum."

Ask your child to help you do a chore -- replace a battery in a toy, wash the car, or pull weeds. Talk to the child about what you're doing. She will have fun and learn some new words.

Take your child along when you do errands. He will enjoy talking and learning with you at the supermarket, the laundromat, or wherever else you need to go. Children also like to look at what's happening in the neighborhoods along the way to and from these trips.

Source: America Reads Challenge: Ready*Set*Read for Families, America Reads

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