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Every day moments

Playing together and everyday moments you share are great times for children to engage with language learning. You don’t need to set aside special teaching times.

Watch and listen to children and talk with them about what they are interested in.

The more words a child hears, the richer their language learning will be.

Talk with me every day.

Talk about what you are doing.

Talk about what I am interested in.

Talking with me regularly strengthens my speech, language and social learning, and builds a strong base for learning to read.

Talk in your home language/s

Young children are amazing language learners and can learn more than one language at a time.

Your home language is important and is a rich language base for children to transfer to new languages.

Language learning takes time. It’s usual for children’s knowledge and understanding of language to be a step ahead of what they can speak or express.

Children often combine different parts of the languages they speak. This is a normal part of their language learning process.

Over time, children learn the distinct features of each language and can switch between languages based on who they are talking to.

Sound and word play

Playing with sounds and words helps children recognise and manipulate the sounds of spoken language (called phonological awareness), a key stepping stone for learning to read and write.

You can have fun together playing with rhymes and rhythms through waiata, stories, poems, nursery rhymes, as well as made up songs, rhymes, and jokes.

Reading and telling stories

All types of books and stories support children to enjoy and experience a variety of words, phrases, and narratives.

Telling stories about future and past events helps develop children’s imagination, thinking and understanding of the world.

It is good to let children enjoy books in their own way, so they know that their interests and ideas are important.

Sometimes children will be interested in one page, only look at the pictures, or will want to read the same book over and over again. It’s okay if you don’t finish the book every time.

Back-and-forth conversations

Back and forth interactions that respond to infants, toddlers, and young children are important for brain development. Children are also able to use new gestures, sounds, words and sentences, and learn how turn-taking in conversations work.

You can help keep the conversation going by looking for and commenting on what children are doing or noticing.

After you’ve had your turn talking, leave space for children to answer in their own way (with sounds, words, or body language).

Descriptive language

Talking together about everyday things helps children understand the world, learn new words, and how to use them.

You can do a lot to help your child:

  • Talk about and describe what is happening around you in that moment, especially things children notice.
  • Describe what you are doing as you do it, such as saying out loud the steps you are taking during cooking.
  • Use accurate words and names and use a variety of words for the same things (synonyms). For example, “I’m sifting flour through the sieve. I’m shaking it left and right.”

Further resources

Download these resources with helpful suggestions for supporting language learning of your tamariki at different ages: