Fellow speech pathologists will likely agree that almost every interaction a speech path has with a child tends to be educational, and dare I say it, overly verbose. Proud to provide those teachable, language-rich experiences to any child, I found myself instinctively shaping the interaction between a mother and her child during a recent trip to the grocery store. While selecting my produce, I overheard the child exclaim to his mother, “Wow! Those oranges are HUGE!” To which the mother replied, “Just put them in the bag.” I was borderline devastated. So, after greeting the mother with a smile, I casually replied, “You’re right, they are gigantic! They’re so round and smooth. Did you feel the rind?” A beautiful 2 minute conversation ensued about oranges, where they grow, how they feel, taste, and what is derived from them. And by seizing this moment, I felt a sense of bliss as I brought a bit of vocabulary, topic maintenance, and general knowledge into this child’s world. I then ran into the duo in the checkout line and overheard the mother commenting, “You’re right Jake, that line is longer than ours. Ours is short.”
‘Making each moment a teachable one’ is easily accessible to any parent and not unreasonably time consuming. I encourage you- acknowledge and expand on your child’s comments, employ open-ended critical thinking questions (what do you think of…), play language-rich games in the car (e.g., I spy, categories), and seize teachable moments.