Conversation and interaction – Parents

Conversation and interaction – Parents

Young children begin learning about conversation within the first few weeks following birth! The new born baby learns to focus on faces, give eye contact and vocalise to indicate his/her needs to the carer. Non-verbal interactions, such as eye contact, facial expression, imitation and turn-taking are important foundation skills for language development. These non-verbal interaction skills are then used throughout life when we interact with others.

Play is not only enjoyable for a child but it also is important in encouraging the skills necessary for language development. These include:

  • Concentration
  • Listening
  • Development of concepts (shape, position, colour)
  • Symbolic understanding (toys are symbols for objects in the same way that words are symbols)

When children are playing they are also developing their social communication skills. As they get older, these skills practised in play enable them to work co-operatively in a group with others. To take part in a conversation with others, children need to be able to:

    • Take turns to talk
    • Listen to others
    • Be aware of what the listener knows and what they are interested in
    • Talk about the same topic as others, and change topic appropriately
    • Start conversations and join conversations appropriately
    • Keep conversations going with a range of people in different situations, by making
    • relevant comments or by asking questions.

As children get older, they are expected to be able to use language to interact appropriately with others, including asking questions, negotiating, giving opinions and discussing ideas and feelings. They need to know the appropriate language for each situation they experience (e.g. when to use slang, and when to use more formal language).

Page last reviewed: 17 April, 2018