Listening and Conversing

You already know (perhaps due to some unfortunate mishaps) that your kids will say and do pretty much as you say and do.  I just read on FB this week (and maybe you did, too) about a preschooler shouting out in a restaurant, “I need an ice cold beer!”  What a hoot!


The communication patterns that you establish with your little ones, from the beginning, will be very influential in terms of the way that they interact with others going forward.  One of the first opportunities that we have to demonstrate how communication works is to “listen with care.” 


New parents learn to distinguish a hungry cry from a tired cry; this is one way to listen with care.  As babies begin to try out their voices, we converse with them.  It might sound something like this:


Baby:  coos, babbles, etc.

Parent:  Is that right?

Baby:  coos, babbles, etc.

Parent:  I think so, too!


We generally do these things quite naturally.  Is this because these babies will need to prove up on a related Common Core Standard in a mere handful of years?  No - (though they will); it’s because of the nature of human language development. 


Isn’t it just so nice to know that your instincts about listening to and conversing with your little ones are probably excellent?  Of course sometimes we have to say, “Mommy’s ears need a rest,” right?  And when we make a mistake, we need to say, “I’m sorry.”  That’s how even the youngest children begin to learn to offer apologies.


 Meet my great nephew, Quincy!  If his mother accidentally bangs his head into a door jamb (as I did to my poor firstborn), I know that she’ll say, “Oh, sweetie – I’m so sorry,” and he will know what she means – even if he cries for another minute or two. 


You can begin to ask your child’s opinion of things at a very young age.  After you share a story or poem, you might ask, “What did you think of that?”  I wonder what your littles would have to say about the poem coming up.


It really doesn’t matter whether your child is able to tell you his/her responses in words; however it is -  is just right for today; a smile or a hug will do nicely, right?  Your child will very much enjoy the beautiful sound of your voice, at the very least.




Oh, fields of wonder

Out of which

Stars are born,

And moon and sun

And me as well,

Like stroke

Of lightning

In the night

Some mark

To make

Some word

To tell.


Langston Hughes


I found this exquisite poem in My Song is Beautiful:  Poems and Pictures in Many Voices.  The poetry was selected by Mary Ann Hoberman. (Remember  A House is a House for Me?)  The collection is illustrated by a variety of excellent artists, so the book also provides opportunities to converse about feelings and reactions associated with different color schemes, styles, etc. 


I would like to recommend a lovely book for every family.  It’s On the Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier.  The poetic text is both soothing and powerful.  The cut paper illustrations (done by Frasier during a bed-bound pregnancy) inspire repeated looks and topics of conversation.  You may find that your school-age children will want to start playing/working with this medium! The information in the back matter will appeal to them, too.