By Karen Nemeth, EdM

Preschool children learn so much by listening and talking. In fact, research shows that conversations you have with your child can do a lot to prepare them for school success. When children listen, they learn new words and ideas. When they talk, they show they are thinking about what they are learning. The more children learn before school, the stronger their foundation for future learning. You can build that learning foundation by sharing your knowledge, experiences, and words with your child in your first or second language. A child with a strong foundation in any language is likely to be successful at learning English as they grow. That’s because early learning in the home language is filled with details and descriptions and all of the interesting words families use in their conversations.

You may see things every day in your neighborhood that make great topics to discuss with your child. Here are some interesting things to talk about:

  • How do we get food in our neighborhood? What are the different places we go to get something to eat? What is your favorite place to eat? Sometimes we get food that’s ready to eat and sometimes we get food that we bring home to cook. What are some things we like to cook at home? If you were hungry right now, where would you go to get a snack in our neighborhood?
  • What kinds of animals do we see in our neighborhood? Let’s see how many animals we can see today. What are some big animals in our neighborhood? Big dogs? Horses? What are some small animals we see? Birds? Squirrels? Where do you think the birds sleep at night? Where do the squirrels go at night? Do we see any fish in our neighborhood? Where can we find fish? How do we stay safe around animals?
  • There are lots of sounds in our neighborhood. What sounds do you hear right now? What are some loud sounds we hear in our neighborhood? Airplanes flying over? Cars and trucks? Dogs barking? People shouting? What are some quiet sounds in our neighborhood? Cat meowing? Birds singing? Music playing? Do you hear any sounds that might scare you a little bit? What are some sounds you like to hear in our neighborhood?
  • Let’s talk about doors. We see a lot of different kinds of doors in our neighborhood. What is our door made from? Wood? Glass? Metal? Some doors are made of glass or they have glass windows so we can see. When a door is made of wood or metal, we can’t see what’s on the other side. Where do we find doors with glass? Where do we find doors that are metal? Where do you find doors that are hard to open? Where do you find doors that open by themselves, automatically? Do you see any revolving doors? How do you know when you see the door to your home?

With so many interesting things happening in the neighborhood, there will always be something to talk about and to learn about together!

Karen Nemeth, Ed.M.
Is an expert in first and second language development and early learning and she hosts a well-known resource website at www.languagecastle.com. She has written more than twelve books and many articles for teachers, leaders, and families, including her newest book -Families & Educators Together: Building Great Relationships that Support Young Children.She works with many programs, schools, and organizations as a consultant and presenter throughout the U.S. and other countries.