Getting Ready for Starting School 4 - Chat, Listen, Learn

Sometimes we overlook the value of everyday things, don’t we? A long chat and a cup of coffee with a friend, catching up with relatives at a family get together, having a good laugh at a funny story - all have the potential to help us forge connections with the people we work with, play with or live with.

Conversations and interactions are an integral part of our lives. We talk to our partners, our family, our friends, our neighbours and although some people may be shyer than others, it’s something most people do without too much thought. I’ve mentioned in a previous blog about the importance of chatting to children but it really is one of the best things you can do to help your child prepare for school.

Talk about the books you read, point out things you see when you’re out and about, explain how things work, ask questions and respond to your child’s answers, play word games, sing songs, recite nursery rhymes.

Doing this will help build your child’s vocabulary, increase their awareness of letter sounds and patterns and develop other important skills which lay the foundation for learning to read. Talking may seem like something we do without thinking but thinking about talking is definitely worth doing!

Of course the flip side of talking is listening, a skill which is crucial when children start school. Maybe it’s stating the obvious, but being able to concentrate on what the teacher is saying, understanding what is said and following instructions is really important - and it’s not something that all children find easy! As children get older their ability to focus for longer periods increases but there are lots of things you can do at home to help encourage good listening from an early age.

  • When you need to get your child’s attention say their name, encourage them to stop what they’re doing and look at you when you’re speaking.

  • Play games like Simon Says.

  • Go for a listening walk outside - how many different sounds can your child hear?

  • Model good listening when you’re chatting with your child - look at them, give your full attention and respond to what they say.

If you’re looking for inspiration Chatterbox Champions cards have lots of ideas for games and activities to encourage conversations and good listening. They’re easy to do, don’t need any special equipment and - very importantly - they’re great fun for you and your child!

If you are a parent, grandparent, childminder or work in early years do you have any favourite games or activities you love to play with little ones?

Elaine KentComment