Tuesday, February 28, 2012

On Your Mark, Get Set, TALK!

The following blog is written by my mom, Karen Montgomery. She will be guest posting regularly. She has a passion for education and will offer both teachers and moms lots of helpful insight on education. Enjoy!

For 10 years I worked for a large publisher. I was in classrooms all across America and I saw some pretty amazing teachers and practices. I also had a unique opportunity to study under Dr. Carolyn Brown while promoting her program, Breakthrough to Literacy. Brown's areas of specialization are Child Development, Language Acquisition, and Reading. My experiences and studies have helped me form some strong opinions about how children learn. I hope you’ll join me each Tuesday as I “guest blog” and share some of my ideas and best practices. The ideas I plan to share are things that you’ll be able to do with your very own children! The late Whitney Houston sang, “…teach them well and let them lead the way.” I say, “Let’s do it!”
Simplistically speaking, comprehension is an understanding of what we hear (spoken sentences & words, etc.) and see (written sentences & words, symbols, gestures, etc.). There are other things that build intellectual capacity like smelling and touching but, I think you get the idea without going into too much detail. Comprehension begins very soon after a child is born and believe it or not, children receive and understand information long before they can express what they know in words. Wouldn’t you agree, when you call your child’s name, they know to look right at you, smile, and respond with kicking feet? Umm, they understand.
So, the first advice from me is to build their comprehension with dialogue. Children can take in a mountain of words, but they must also practice using the words and concepts that they’re learning. This practice happens in conversation. You will help your child make sense of their world by having “talks.” Don’t just read the book, ask some questions about it. Ask your child about their day and repeat the sequence back to them. Talk about what they’re building, playing, reading, etc. I know you’re thinking by now that your child talks nonstop and talking is not an issue in your home. But, what I want you to do is a bit different from what you’re thinking. I want you to have a purposeful conversation each day. I want you to laugh, cry, explain, listen, and enjoy this exchange of dialogue. Both of you will talk and both of you will listen. There is huge research that supports this idea and I’ll leave it up to you to look it up (Hart & Risley, Meaningful Differences). Let me know your observations after a few tries.
And, until next time…on your mark, get set, TALK!


  1. This is a great post and great advice! As the mommy of a learning disabled child (she's 9 now but intellectually she's about 4), having "talks" even when you get no response is so important. I continue to try to interact/prod her for comments/observations. It can be frustrating, but I KNOW it's still helping her.

    1. You are so right and I encourage you to keep it up! I appreciate your kind words...Karen