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language and learning

Building Conversations
Affirm to support turns and stretch
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mother and babyPart of communication is showing that your partner's ideas are important to you. You may want to continue a conversation by encouraging your baby to take another turn. You may not get the message the first time. You may not immediately think of a way to respond. You may want to add something to your response to let your baby know you are interested and approving.

Tiny babies make lots of funny sounds. It is not always clear how to answer. As a parent, you have many ways of showing your baby approval and support.

  • You can keep your eyes on your baby while the two of you communicate.
  • You can smile and nod.
  • You can let your face show the same feeling that your baby is showing.
  • You can add small words, such as "yes," or "okay" to your response.
  • You can wait expectantly for more communication.

Let's see some examples of these strategies.

Father and daughter
Did you notice how the baby vocalized and looked at Daddy? Then he smiles and answers. He says, "Yeah, is that right? Uh-huh. What else do you think?" He also copies her. All of this encourages her to take a turn.
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Mother and child
This baby really likes to babble. Her mom encourages her by smiling, looking and making positive comments. They are having fun with communication.
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ToddlerBabies and toddlers are not always easy to understand. When they begin to say words (often around 12 months of age), their early attempts can change a lot. Toddlers use jargon - a mix of jibberish and a word attempt or two. In the next movies, you will see examples of times when babies and toddlers are not clear. Notice how parents affirm and keep the conversation going. The little boy has a hearing loss and the little girl has normal hearing. Notice that all the babies are unclear at times. Their parents become good meaning detectives!

Mom and son
Notice he tries to say, "bee." Mom smiles and then she stretches his idea, saying, "Is that the bumble bee?" She gives him chances to practice new words too.
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Mom with child
When this little girl "talks" on the phone, she is producing jargon. It sounds like she is talking, but the words are hard to understand. The mother shows interest, and then picks up on the one word she follows (baby). She says, "Oh, did you see the baby?" Then she invites her toddler to go back to the conversation, "Say hello to grandma."
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