It is in the simple day-to-day tasks that we can immerse our children in talking and interacting.  Oral language, if I am to use a scientific term, is endangered and becoming extinct!

Children, at infancy, are in need of much interaction and this does not diminish as they grow.  Your response to them is foundational to their emotional-social wellbeing and learning achievement.  I am not speaking of short commands, but complete sentences with inflection and interest by the adult.

As I was walking in puddles with my 2-year-old granddaughter, I became aware of how simple and easy it is just to engage and interact with her as we walked.  She exclaimed as the sun came out, “I see my shadow, Mani!” and later “This is a tiny puddle; this is a big one.”

I don’t know if you recognize all that transpired but here is a short list:

  1. She talked in complete sentences.
  2. She observed her reflection and shadow in the puddle.
  3. She was size-comparing puddles.
  4. She had the vocabulary to describe what she saw happening.

We were able to discuss her reflection and look for different size puddles, plus just play in puddles.  Now mind you, we only were out 10 minutes but we had rich discussions in a two-year-old world.

What’s more here is some research on the subject:

  • Oral Language is a pathway supporting a young child’s emergent literacy skills (Roth, Speece & Cooper, 2002).
  • Done by men and women for centuries for immediate or extended family, larger family groups (Stadler & Ward, 2005).
  • Oral Language acquisition impacts future literacy development and has been found to be a causal relationship (Harlaar, Hayiou, Thomas, Dale & Plomin, 2008).  Research also shows overheard speech or language from media viewing does not promote children’s language skills.
  • Without a strong oral language base, young children are less likely to have success in early reading (Cooper, P.M., Capo, K., Mathes, B., & Gray, L., 2007).
  • It’s the forgotten Big Idea in reading (Grant, J. O., Pauly, H.M., 2016).  Inner Language (begins in womb) Oral Receptive Language and Oral expressive language lead to read & write language (Myklebust, 1965).

Last, but most important to me:

  • Playing with Language – Fill up you child with good “Language Nutrition” (Lowry L., April, 2017).  Language nutrition is talking, interacting, and book reading that parents/caregivers engage in with their children. Parents who use more gestures when they speak tend to have children with stronger language skills – in particular, gestures that focus children’s attention on something.  This includes talking, interacting and responding.


So please “fan the flame” of learning and discovery in your children and watch them glow!!




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