Tools For Learning

Inspiration for Parents & Educators

Quality Conversations with Kids

imageListening to the quality conversations of my preschool granddaughter with her mom and dad amazes me with her use of big words in correct context. It started me wondering about quality vs quantity of words in young kids conversations with peers and adults. So I did a little research.

What I found out is a growing body of research conducted by Dr. Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek, a professor of psychology at Temple University suggests that the quality conversations with kids and their parents is of much greater importance than the number of words a child hears. It’s all about having fluid quality conversations with kids around shared rituals and objects, like pretending to have a tea party, or using a play telephone to have conversation with dad at work. Dr. Hirsh-Pasek says that this is the stuff from which great language is made.

In a previous University of Kansas study found that in quality conversations with kids, parental tone, responsiveness, and use of symbols affected a child’s I.Q. and vocabulary. So what can you do as a busy parent daily with your kids to further the quality of language in conversations? The answer is easy and doable: speak in diverse ways: use different verb tenses and elaborate more. Instead of just saying “the man”, try adding adjectives:”the big, tall young man”. These two tips will help your kid’s cognitive development. Breakfast, lunch and/or dinner is a great time to start modeling interactive quality conversations with kids.Include your kids in your family discussions, no matter how young they are. Rephrase sentences using simpler words for your toddlers so they can have an understanding of your discussions. What a powerful thing to do to raise the quality not only of their language but also of their knowledge and their understanding of words.

I always say:”Listen, really listen to your kids and what they have to say. If you don’t listen to the little things they say to you when they’re little, they won’t share the big things when they’re older.” Now, I would like to add to this and say:
“Talk to your kids, really talk to them and include them in your family time quality conversations with kids!” Observe what happens. Their vocabulary and understanding of words will grow and have meaning in their own conversations with you and others. And sometimes their use of words in context with amaze you and sometimes provide you with a good laugh!

A couple of weeks ago when I was babysitting my 3 year old granddaughter, she asked for what she terms a midnight snack before she goes to bed. We had a late dinner that evening so I filled her favorite blue cereal bowl up about only 1/4 full with her most liked cereal. To my surprise she said to me:
“Gigi, you’re ‘killing’me! Please give me more. I’m really, really hungry!” To my amazement, she heard, learned, and understood how to use this unexpected phrase in correct, perfect context. I wonder still where she learned that particular phrase. But what I do know for certain is that she or someone else was engaging in a conversation with someone that was not pleased in anyway, shape, or form, and she learned through that interaction how to use those words appropriately.

A note to the wise parent: Be careful and mindful of the particular words you share in your quality conversations with kids! If you don’t they may come back someday and haunt you! And by the way:”Happy Halloween!”

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The Joy of the Present


The joy of being occurs in the present!

We  all want true joy in our lives! So, what’s the problem? Why don’t we have the joy and happiness that we seek to enjoy fulfilled lives?

We all spend a great deal of our lives hoping and dreaming about how wonderful our lives would be if only we lost those extra pounds, had a rewarding job, enjoyed well behaved kids, or perhaps owned a large bank account. Some of us on the other hand remenisce how wonderful things were when we were younger, when we didn’t have these health issues, and when there was time when all we had to do was put our minds to do something, and miraculously we had all the energy and resources to make it all come about in a timely manner.  At times we fluctuate between these 2 types of thinking and we’re all wrapped up in knots, stopped in our tracks, and not knowing what to do now, or where to turn. We all falsely believe that our joy depends on others and situations beyond our control, or worst yet, on fate! When we subscribe to this destructive mindset, we can’t possibily realize how amazing our lives are right now.

To clarify things just a bit, the past is just the past – whether it was 10 seconds, 10 minutes, or 10 years ago and the future is not real!; it hasn’t occured yet, and the chances that it turns out how we envisioned is slim to none. When our thoughts are primarily in the past or future, we rob ourselves of endless possibilities by not totally living in the present. Living in the present is a state of mind, not unlike happiness. Living in the future is easy because we believe all our hopes and dreams will come true at some time or other. This illusion may keep us going for a while, but as illisuions go, they may never, ever come into being.We can’t count on the future to provide the environment that offers us the satisfaction that we currently lack. While we’re planning to be happy in the future, other things happen, both good and bad. Life happens! Life doesn’t stand still because we’ve made up our minds that things as we’ve planned them will turn out exactly the way we want. Time is only an illusion. The more we are focused  on either past or future events, the more we miss the abundance that is right in front of us all along.

The joy of being occurs in the present!





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