It’s hard as a mum. You’ve got so many things going on and sometimes you just want that bit of peace and quiet.  You don’t want to answer another ‘why’ question.  You don’t want to talk to your child about dinosaurs for the 10th time today. You don’t want to explain what ‘consequences’ means.  But, all of this is so good for our little ones.  It’s all helping to develop their oral language.  Might not sound like much, but it’s huge!

Basically, oral language is about communicating with other people and as such, it is central to our lives and the lives of our children.  Oral language lays the foundation for the reading and writing skills children will develop as they progress through school.  They will use oral language in all areas of their education, in the classroom as they connect with their friends and teachers, and throughout their lives as they grow into adulthood.

Having a solid foundation in oral language will help children become successful readers and strong communicators as well as build their confidence and overall sense of well-being.

Children need sound oral language in order to be able to take part in conversations where they answer questions, share personal stories and retell stories they have heard using details.  They need it to socialise and be sociable.

Children with developed oral language ability are able to recognise and produce rhyming words and identify beginning sounds in words, two crucial skills for learning to read.

Oral language development is also critical to vocabulary acquisition. When children are encouraged to talk about their experiences in a conversation with others, they will add words to their vocabulary. This helps them later when they begin reading independently.

Children with good oral language have an easier time comprehending what they read or what is read to them. These students have learned to listen and know how to remember important facts about a story.

Again and again, research shows that repeated exposure to rich language can help children become successful communicators, readers and writers.

What YOU can do to help your child:

  • Treat children as if they are skilled at conversation. Don’t ‘dumb it down’. Instead, use new and large words in their correct context.
  • Give your child your full attention and focus on what they say.
  • Ask open-ended questions (questions in which there is no right or wrong answer and to which the adult does not “know” the answer).  to follow up on what they share.
  • Help children learn to listen to one another. When we (adults) value listening to children and to each other, children will notice this.
  • Explicitly model how to be a good listener

If you communicate frequently with your child at home by asking questions or playing games, you will be helping them to become a better communicator and in turn a more successful reader and writer.  So the next time you are in the car and they are jabbering away in the back seat… take a deep breath in, turn down the radio and engage fully in the conversation.  They are keen to learn!

Kirsty Gibbs

Kirsty Gibbs  

Kirsty began her career as a teacher in 2006. Since then she has worked in all areas of education from the early years to high school. She lives on the Gold Coast with her husband and two young daughters. Kirsty is the founder of Learning Blocks, the learning hub for parents and children. She specialises in early childhood education and runs classes and workshops for both parents and children aged 3-13. Kirsty has most recently developed educational resources and guides for parents to use at home with their children // www.learningblockscentre.com.au