Fun with language
         Rubber baby buggy bumpers. Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled
peppers. Enjoy word play with your child. This helps to encourage the
appreciation of words and language. It also develops listening skills.

         A natural place to begin with younger children is to choose a letter or
sound and find words that begin with the same letter or sound: ball, bus, baby,
bottle, bicycle, etc. Once they get a handle on beginning sounds, move to
ending sounds or middle sounds.

         Letís look at a list of rhyming words: an, ban, can, Dan, fan, Jan, man,
Nan, pan, ran, Stan, tan, van. Some are words that your child already knows. If
he doesnít know some of them, this creates a teaching opportunity for you to
explain the meaning of a new word.

         If he offers responses such as zan, gan, or han you explain that yes, these
are sounds that rhyme (always look for a way to give encouragement), but
these arenít words.

         Thereís no telling where you will lead when you are teaching your child.
Be open to going wherever your conversation may lead. What about san? ďAh,Ē
you explain, ďThatís just like the San in San Francisco; itís a Spanish word that
means saint. San Francisco was named after Saint Francis. There are other cities
that start with San: San Diego, San Carlos, San Mateo. And Santa means saint for
women: Santa Monica, Santa Clara, Santa Fe.Ē  Your word-play  started with
sounds and it led you to geography and Spanish!

         This type of play is also easily transported to a variety of settings: the car,
dinner table, grocery store, park bench. All you need to carry with you is your
own imagination.

         Many families have children of different ages involved in the same
conversation. If your younger child is approaching school age and is ready for
this type of word play, remind the older one(s) of the importance of being
non-judgmental in working with the little one(s). Enlist their aid in teaching what
they know to their younger siblings. This will help to reinforce their own skills and
abilities.

         This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children
Well: A Teacherís  Advice for Parents.

 
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