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'Talking on the Go'


Q. I have barely any quality time with my preschool child because of having to work two jobs. But I really want to do the things I know I should, to get him ready for school. I feel guilty that he's in day care all day, five days a week. How can I make it up to him in what little time we have together?


Of course, you're busy. We all are. But there's something that comes very naturally to you, that you can do for your child anytime, anywhere, and it's so simple, it'll make you smile: you should talk to him!


There's a neat new book, "Talking on the Go," for parents as well as day-care providers and preschool teachers, that presents a number of easy-to-do ideas for building your child's communication skills. You can build vocabulary, listening skills, reading readiness, writing readiness, speech production and conversational skills, all while just being with your child at home and in the car, at the park and in the supermarket.


One of the biggest problems with having so many American children in all-day mass child-care settings is that their models for speech are other small children. Also, the tendency to watch TV or videos, either at home or in structured settings, cuts down on our children's conversational and listening abilities, simply for lack of practice. They're not communicating - they're staring at a screen.


Teachers are complaining that more and more children have trouble getting facts and ideas into coherent format when they speak and write in class. It is believe that this is because adults are not spending enough time with children, conversing with them, and modeling good speech and communication patterns.


Teachers also note that many children tend to communicate with gestures instead of using words, probably for the same reason - they are inexperienced conversationalists. It is probable that the increase in "acting out" behaviors - hitting, kicking, temper tantrums - is due to this deficiency in normal verbal skills.


So how much fun is this solution? It's simple, it doesn't cost anything, and it'll be just as good for you as for your child. Just talk with your child - lots and lots and lots.


Don't feel guilty about having to work. Do feel guilty, however, if you don't have your child in a good day-care program in which the adults understand what it takes to help build a child's speech and language abilities, since they are crucial for school.


And do feel guilty if you DON'T do exactly what you say you want to do - help your child get into the best shape possible for learning, before that kindergarten year begins. This book could be an excellent tool for doing that, and it might be a great gift for your child's day-care staff as well.


The book costs $40 unless you belong to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Authors are Dorothy Dougherty and Diane Paul.


Homework: See more about the book in the bookstore of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association,


By Susan Darst Williams Ages & Stages 105 2008



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