Reciprocal Conversations: the What, the Why, the How
A: A reciprocal conversation is a back-and-forth conversation that involves multiple exchanges of asking and answering questions, and building on each other’s comments.
A: Children need to be able to use and practice language skills in functional contexts, e.g. being in conversation with others.
- How to involve someone else in an interaction
- Know when it’s their turn to participate
- How to communicate effectively using verbal and nonverbal means
- How to ask for clarification when they don’t understand something
- How to repair miscommunicated messages
- How to respond based on what has been shared
- How to keep the interaction going using different kinds of comments and questions
A: We want to make sure the interaction is enjoyable, and we want to create as many opportunities for children to take as many turns as possible.
A: No, many children spontaneously initiate interactions with others. But you need to watch for these initiations and be ready to respond.
A: The reciprocity in a conversation can be demonstrated through play as well. Little children experience this back-and-forth rhythm by learning to take turns with you in play.
A: Your child is still learning all about reciprocal conversations and what they are supposed to do. So you might find that they don’t always respond even when you have waited for them. When this happens, you can keep talking about the immediate context in a way that doesn’t impose any pressure for your child to respond back.
- Adapt your language to suit your child’s language ability.
- Talk about the here and now.
- Use pointing where possible.