Talking and Engaging More Effectively
14 Quick and Simple Tips for YEAR 3

Year 3 includes many of the Tips of Year 2, and some new ones:

  1. Get more specific in your choice of words. Introduce new, more challenging words through familiar contexts. Give specific names for objects and actions. Once your child knows basic words, go beyond them. That bird is called a swallow. That’s a mini cooper…. Encourage the child to learn new words using familiar ones. At this age, children can figure out what new words mean based on what they already know. You no longer need to point at objects, and label them over and over. For example, rather than saying: This is a papaya (new fruit), you can say: Give me the papaya, not the apple (familiar fruit). Word learning is quicker and more flexible.
  2. Ask questions about the future. Shall we go to Nina’s birthday party tomorrow?
  3. Introduce more diverse words. Talk about the color, size, texture, quantity of things, as well as letters. I’ve got a blue block. Can you find a red block? Talk about how things are the same or different in size, color, texture – compare and contrast.
  4. Talk in longer and more diverse sentences. Be elaborate in what you say. See, this black furry dog who is digging a big hole? rather than This doggy is digging. Go an extra mile and get in more diverse words and structures.
  5. Read aloud, and as if you were having a conversation. Start pointing to the print. Between 2 and 3, children start paying attention to print, and may recognize first letters and names, especially their own. Trace the print with your child to bring attention to it. Get a book with very few words in huge letters, and read it with your child. He learns to recognize the names and associate the print with them.
  6. Talk about past events. Ask about events that were special to your child such as his birthday, or ask about what he did in day care:  Who did you play with today?
  7. Talk about the feelings of people, your child’s and those of others. Model how to work through negative feelings. Children are getting very interested in how people feel, and realize that other people can feel differently than they feel. Talk and explain different feelings, make little role plays where characters are dealing with positive and also negative, frustrating experiences.
  8. Give your child choices to get in more talk. For example, ask questions: Would you like to read the BLUE book or the RED book? (as you point to each while naming it). This gets your child to engage and talk as well as deciding for himself.
  9. Point out relationships between things. Talk about how things are similar, and how they are different: A dog is an animal, a duck is an animal, but a truck is not an animal. It’s a vehicle.
  10. Expand make-believe play into more detail and introduce role-play. Use language to guide the play. For example, break down baking a birthday cake into all the little steps involved: From getting the ingredients, the utensils needed, heating up the oven, making the dough, baking the cake, checking on it, … Be very specific and guide the child’s play with language. Include your child, and ask for his opinions: Do you think the cake is done? How do we know when the cake is done?, … When starting role-plays, give the child roles that he’s very familiar with, for example that of a baby, a mommy, or a daddy. Model what he could say in his role.
  11. Ask real, imaginary and factual questions. Ask all kinds of questions, especially open-ended ones: What, where, why, how, … For example, Why is the boy crying? What did the little girl eat? Include imaginary questions. They get your child to think, and let you tap into his knowledge: If dogs could drive, which car would they drive? Include factual, personal questions as well: How many legs do you have? Prompt and give choices, if necessary.
  12. Introduce rhymes and make up rhyme songs. Towards the end of this year, children start to pay more and more attention to the actual sounds of words. This is a good time to introduce lots of rhyming: The CAT sits on a MAT. Let’s put a HAT on the CAT. The CAT has a BAT.
  13. Expand the child’s utterances and ask open-ended questions. For example, if your child says: He’s eating, ask and expand: What do you think doggies like to eat? Do they eat a special kind of food? Introduce new words such as ‘kibbles’, … Also ask silly questions to encourage thinking and talking: Do doggies eat stones?
  14. Stay positive & praise the child’s behavior (not the child). Be specific and point out what it is that you liked about something she said or did: You worked really hard on this picture. I like your flowers, especially your tulips.