When you take your child on outings, surround these new experiences and events with lots of comments, questions, and answers between you and your child. Talk about what you are going to do before you do it and, afterward, talk about what you did. Structure these conversations to encourage the children to do more of the talking by asking questions and sharing interest in your child’s thoughts and opinions. Support your child’s efforts to communicate complex thoughts by waiting patiently, suggesting words as needed. Let your child sometimes control the subject of the conversations, and encourage her or his efforts to use new words and to describe complex or distant topics.

Pick books that connect to a child’s life and talk about those connections. For example, when you read Green Eggs and Ham you might ask your child, “What color eggs do you eat?” “Shall we look for purple eggs in the store?”

Try turning the tables during reading time. When most adults share a book with young children, they do the reading and the child does the listening. But once children reach preschool age, parents and teachers can encourage them to become the reader or teller of the story instead. Start by prompting the child to say something about the book. (You can get the ball rolling by asking a question or making a comment yourself.) After the child responds, rephrase his or her answer and expand it by adding information. Continue along in this manner, each time, encouraging the child to expand further on the narration.

Phonological Awareness

During the preschool years, most children gradually become sensitive to the sounds, as well as the meanings, of spoken words. They demonstrate this phonological awareness in many ways; for instance: they notice rhymes and enjoy poems and rhyming songs; they make up silly names for things by substituting one sound for another (e.g., bubblegum, bubblebum, gugglebum, bumbleyum); they break long words into syllables or clap along with each syllable in



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