English Language Arts Foundation: 1 - Communication Process

Topic: ELA1.3 - Demonstrate ability to engage in conversations

Conversations are back and forth verbal exchanges between at least two people, where one person starts speaking while the other person is actively listening and then responds to the first person. Two-way conversations are how children communicate their needs, wants, emotions and interests. Respectful two way communications are how children and educators build a mutually trusting relationship.

Looking Ahead to Kindergarten Family Engagement Special Populations
In kindergarten, students will listen actively and communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for difference purposes (K.SL.1) and participate in collaborative conversations about grade-appropriate topics and texts with peers and adults in small and large groups (K.SL.2.1). Additionally, students will ask appropriate questions about what a speaker says (K.SL.3.2). Lastly, students will continue a conversation through multiple exchanges (K.SL.2.5) and they will listen to others, take turns speaking, and add their own ideas to small group discussions or tasks (K.SL.2.3). Encourage families to:

*Have frequent conversations with their child and use rich vocabulary while making eye contact and listening actively.
*Ask their child questions that require more than a yes/no response.
*Consider using informal times to talk to their child (i.e. meal times, driving in the car, etc.).
*Problem solve with their child (e.g. “What do you think we should do about…?”).
*Use their child’s stuffed animals or sock puppets to demonstrate conversations.

Educators can:

*Model respectful conversations by allowing children time to process and observe how language is used by others (e.g. learning to pause, attentively listening).
*Look for nonverbal cues as when to encourage children to participate in conversations and when to let them observe.

Powerful Practices
Across all developmental stages, educators can:

*Frequently label and point out objects, and build on children’s interests to introduce new vocabulary.
*Demonstrate active listening skills by making eye contact and being on the child’s level.
*Frequently describe what is happening around them including routines, sounds, objects and other people.
*Give children time to express their thoughts, ideas and interests.
*Ask open ended questions (i.e. questions requiring more than a yes/no answer) and provide time for children to respond before asking additional questions.
*Consistently respond to and repeat children’s responses and extend their statements including additional or more complex vocabulary.
*Attend to children’s needs and non-verbal cues to model the back and forth flow of conversations, while building children’s trust to engage in conversations.


Engage infant in back-and-forth vocalizations

Model conversation patterns, pausing for verbal or nonverbal responses (e.g. “Do you see the puppy?” Pause for response. Infant smiles or coos. “The puppy has brown ears.”)

Model eye contact and other non-verbal conversation skills, while respecting cultural differences

Play simple back-and-forth games (e.g. Peek-a-Boo, Pat- a- Cake)

Younger Toddler
Be aware of child’s nonverbal cues (e.g. head shaking or pointing)

Respond to nonverbal cues and/or gestures by giving words to actions and extending child’s communication attempts (e.g. “I see you are pointing to the milk. Would you like more?”)

Support peer-to-peer communication by giving words to use during play particularly during conflicts

Model listening to children without interruption

Sit with children during mealtimes and engage them in meaningful conversations

Older Toddler
Ask simple open ended questions and allow child time to process and respond

When asking questions or talking with child, give options for response if needed (e.g. “Would you like to color or paint?”)

Support child in taking turns during conversations with peers

Sit with children during mealtimes and engage them in meaningful conversations

Younger Preschool
Engage child in conversation on topics of their interest

Model typical conversation patterns

Provide materials that encourage conversation (e.g. telephones, puppets)

Provide opportunities for peer-to-peer conversations (e.g. cooperative play experiences like dramatic play area or block area)

Sit with children during mealtimes and engage them in meaningful conversations

Older Preschool
Give child opportunities to initiate and lead conversations

Provide opportunities for child to actively participate in group conversations in an age-appropriate manner (e.g. staying on topic with the conversation)

Provide materials that encourage expanded conversation skills (e.g. puppets, story props, board games)

Offer support to children when they are solving a problem or conflict through peer-to-peer communication

Sit with children during mealtimes and engage them in meaningful conversations