Supporting Conversations

Help children grow in their conversational skills

Young children tell us what they think and need in a variety of ways. Gestures, facial expressions, babbling, and words are all ways that children may try communicating with adults and peers. As children grow in their ability to express themselves and listen attentively to others, it’s important to support both communicating and understanding. This strategy outlines ways that you can support children’s early conversation and communication skills.

Hallmarks of This Strategy

Expand With Words

Repeat what children say or show, add in more details, and use specific vocabulary to reflect your understanding of what children are expressing.

Go Back-and-Forth

An important part of conversations is give-and-take. Remind children when to talk and when to listen. Practice turn-taking in other ways, like passing a ball back and forth.

Show Genuine Interest

Ask and answer questions to show your interest in what children have to share. Model how to listen attentively and encourage children to listen and share with one another as well.


The Talking Stick Routine

The Talking Stick Routine is adapted from the many indigenous cultures that use it as a communication tool. This adaptation helps children practice conversational turn-taking in groups.

In this lesson, we explore ways to help children participate in group conversations by using a visual cue – the Talking Stick – to show whose turn it is to talk or listen.