Parenting Resource

Bennett, Age 9 Months, Learning Language Skills

May 19, 2010

Watch this video of dad, Larry, talking with his son, Bennett, at dinner. Notice how Larry and Ben each play an active role in the conversation.

To Think About:

What communication skills does Ben use?

How does Larry read and respond to Ben’s actions and words?

What do you think Ben is learning about speaking and listening and about himself as he “talks” with his dad?

What the Experts Say About This Interaction

What Ben does:

  • Works hard to feed himself with his hands.

  • Looks for where the dropped food went—this shows that Ben is trying to figure out where things go when they disappear.

  • Use his gestures, facial expressions and sounds to show that he is done eating.

  • Learns new words.

  • Practices “talking” and listening.

  • Learns that his dad is eager to understand what he is “saying.”

What Larry does:

  • Labels the foods Ben is eating—teaching him new words.

  • Asks questions (where did the food go?) which encourages Ben to have a conversation with him. Asking questions also supports the development of thinking skills.

  • Responds to Ben’s signals. When Ben stops picking up the food, starts to rub his eyes, and uses his sign for “all done”, dad takes him out of the high chair. Dad’s response lets Ben know that he is a good communicator.

  • Builds Ben’s self-confidence by letting Ben feed himself.

Think About How Your Child Is Using These Skills

  • How does your child communicate her thoughts and feelings?

  • What are ways you encourage your child’s communication skills?

  • Think of a recent interaction you had with your child.

  • How did he or she let you know what he was thinking and feeling?

  • How did you respond?

  • How do you think your response encouraged his or her language skills?

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