Teach Me To Talk
4th April 2016
3:30pm is a wonderful time for teachers! But it can also be heart breaking. I used to feel so disappointed when I heard parents ask; “How was school?” and the kids answered with “Good”. Most frustrating was; “What did you do today?” and the inevitable reply; “Nothing!” Let me assure you – school is better than “good” and the kids are doing a lot more than “nothing”.
When we ask kids questions like this, day after day, they come up with a stock standard answer. Kids don’t genetically inherit the skill of conversation; they learn it, daily, from the adults around them. It’s important that we understand that we are constantly teaching our kids how to talk.
Speaking is a valuable skill. How often have you been impressed by someone, just because they were well-spoken? As a parent, you can offer that advantage to your child. Children from families who spend time talking together often experience improved literacy and broader vocabularies. Most importantly, talking can generate a special bond between parent and child. So how do you talk to kids?
Do away with those over-used questions. Ask things like, “Tell me something funny that happened today?”, “What books are you reading in class?” or “Who did you play with?”
And it’s all in the timing. Would you like to talk about work the moment you were leaving the office? If you want to know how their school day was, wait a while before asking. Try talking during the walk home, over the dinner table or before bed. Make eye contact and listen to what they’re saying. Ask questions and help to generate the conversation. There’s a big difference between talking with your kids rather than at them or even to them.
Talking with your kids can be a hilarious time, a chance to bond as a family and create ‘in family’ jokes. Just the other day my four year old Sophie came in after playing outside, pressed her hand to her heart and told me “My heart is beeping fast.” And then yesterday, my nearly eight year old shared this exchange with me:
What are we doing this afternoon, Mum?
Nothing much, bub. Why?
Me and Sophie want to have a Barbie Arvie.
You know, an afternoon where we play Barbies. We’ve just sorted all the clothes and shoes and that.
So make time this week to really talk with your kids – even if they’re older and they grunt at you… even if they’re bubbas and they gurgle at you. Talk matters.