Tag Archives: interacting with children

Conversations With Children

conversations-with-childrenWhen I was working in my center, by the time I got home I was absolutely done talking—at least for a little while. My husband never understood why until one day I explained to him I have conversations all day long. Engaging in conversations with the children was my favorite thing about teaching.  It was tiring some days, but I loved it. To listen to their stories, hopes, concerns, and jokes filled my bucket each day. Conversation is not just talking, but also it is about listening. Extending learning happens by having intentional conversation as well as daily verb exchanges. Children may have limited access with adults engaging in intentional conversations. As early childhood educators, we have the perfect opportunity to engage.

Intentional conversation is key. Positive relationships are created through intentional conversations. These relationships stimulate the building of vocabulary, help with interpersonal skills, help with social-emotional skills because their feelings are validated by your listening and responses, and build the foundation of their perception towards learning (check out my previous blog, Cling to the Positive).

I found a great resource with tips to help create a language-rich environment from UNC’s Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute’s Blog, More than Baby Talk.

Below is their list of 10 ways to help create the environment to spark those crucial conversations that develop into lifetime learning for the children in your program.

  1. Get Chatty: Engage in meaningful conversations with children. “Hello, Charlie! How was your ride to school today?”
  2. Be a Commentator: Give descriptions of objects, activities or events. “I see that you are using the orange marker to color your picture today.”
  3. Mix It Up: Use different types of words and grammar. “Alice was aggravated that she couldn’t find the white rabbit”
  4. Label It: Provide children with the names of objects or actions. You can label shelves, coat hooks, cubbies, etc.
  5. Tune In: Engage in activities or objects that interest children.
  6. Read Interactively: Use books to engage children’s participation.
  7. Read It Again: Read books multiple times. This creates opportunities for sequencing/ problem-solving.
  8. Props: Introduce objects that spark conversations.
  9. Make Music: Engage in musical activities. Make your own instruments!
  10. Sign It: Use gestures or simple signs with words.

Bringing more of these new (or not so new) crucial conversation activities into the classroom and making it fun can give you more insight about what the children in your program need! Let the conversations start and have your listening ears (and listening heart) on!

Stop calling me “sweetie,” my name is Tracy.

In the past I have attended social functions where I was referred to as “sweetie.” Instead of finding this “pet name” as a term of endearment, I found it insulting. My name is Tracy. Calling me by anything else takes away my individuality. It’s a generic term that makes me feel as though people do not see me for all that I am. As I sorted through these thoughts and feelings, I couldn’t help but think… How does this make our classroom children feel if we refer to them as “sweetie”?

When we interact with children,

How do we ensure that we are doing everything we can to help children become successful problem-solvers and critical thinkers?

I also began to wonder… How does this leave the child feeling when you forget to call them by these “pet names”? Could they be keeping track of how often you call their peers by these pet names, but not them? What if these pet names such as, “sweetie, honey, or baby,” are terms of endearment to you but could be construed as something negative to the child? For example, what if this child is told to stop acting like a “baby” in other environments? Instead of this being a positive thing for the child to hear, it could actually have a damaging effect on the child’s emotional development.

As educators in this field, we have many goals for the preschool children in our classrooms and programs. When I was teaching in the classroom, one of my main goals was to help build children’s emotional and social development. I did this by nurturing them as they gained their independence and became self-efficient. I wanted to assist them as they built their confidence as young children and found their own identities. One of the ways I did this was by calling children by their real names. By using children’s real names we are demonstrating respect for them as individuals. We are helping to mold them to become successful problem-solvers and critical thinkers. How can we help children successfully develop their own sense of who they are if we don’t call them by their real names?

Again, my name is Tracy, that’s what you may call me.