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August 21, 2013

ERS Moment: Informal Use of Language

“Moving from good to great is not a difference of miles, it’s millimeters.” – Anonymous

A wise man by the name of Dr. Seuss once said “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” If this is true, why do we sometimes speak to children any differently than we would a close friend?

As an active participant in classroom conversations, we should not only be a partaker, but a model and coach as well. Conversations are not just intended for group time; rather they play a more significant role in free play and routines. To be more conscious of how “heavy” your communication lies, make an effort to engage in an informal conversation at least once every five minutes (even set a timer if you need); informal meaning, to chat. Talk about what they’re doing, while asking questions (what?, where?, how?, why?) and making any connections you can to their likes and interests. Your conversation should not solely be targeting an educational quality – remember this is about informal language. Also be sure to differentiate who you are talking to and with what purpose. Every child deserves your attention. This includes conversations in small groups, as well as with individuals.

Keep this in mind…

You wouldn’t host a party and only speak to two or three guests, would you? You would work the crowd, and also make an effort to foster conversations among your guests. The same should be done with your classroom. By facilitating and urging informal conversation with and among your children, you are setting them up for success in the future. So get chatting!