Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 2: Program Activities for Healthy Development

2.1 Program of Developmental Activities

2.1.1 General Program Activities Verbal Interaction

The child care facility should assure that a rich environment of spoken language by caregivers/teachers surrounds and includes all children with opportunities to expand their language communication skills. Each child should have at least one speaking adult person who engages the child in frequent verbal exchanges linked to daily events and experiences. To encourage the development of language, the caregiver/teacher should demonstrate skillful verbal communication and interaction with the child.

  1. For infants, these interactions should include responses to, and encouragement of, soft infant sounds, as well as identifying objects, feelings, and desires by the caregiver/teacher.
  2. For toddlers, the interactions should include naming of objects, feelings, listening to the child and responding, along with actions and supporting, but not forcing, the child to do the same.
  3. For preschool and school-age children, interactions should include respectful listening and responses to what the child has to say, amplifying and clarifying the child’s intent, and not reinforcing mispronunciations (e.g., Wambulance instead of Ambulance).
  4. Frequent interchange of questions, comments, and responses to children, including extending children’s utterances with a longer statement, by teaching staff.
  5. For children with special needs, alternative methods of communication should be available, including but not limited to: sign language, assistive technology, picture boards, picture exchange communication systems (PECS), FM systems for hearing aids, etc. Communication through methods other than verbal communication can result in the same desired outcomes.
  6. Profanity should not be used at any time.
Conversation with adults is one of the main channels through which children learn about themselves, others, and the world in which they live. While adults speaking to children teaches the children facts and relays information, the social and emotional communications and the atmosphere of the exchange are equally important. Reciprocity of expression, response, and the initiation and enrichment of dialogue are hallmarks of the social function and significance of the conversations (1-4).

The future development of the child depends on his/her command of language (5). Research suggests that language experiences in a child’s early years have a profound influence on that child’s language and vocabulary development, which in turn has an impact on future school success (6). Richness of the child’s language increases as it is nurtured by verbal interactions and learning experiences with adults and peers. Basic communication with parents/guardians and children requires an ability to speak their language. Discussing the impact of actions on feelings for the child and others helps to develop empathy.

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
  1. Mayr, T., M. Ulich. 1999. Children’s well-being in day care centers: An exploratory empirical study. Int J Early Years Education 7:229-39.
  2. Baron, N., L. W. Schrank. 1997. Children learning language: How adults can help. Lake Zurich, IL: Learning Seed.
  3. Szanton, E. S., ed. 1997. Creating child-centered programs for infants and toddlers, birth to 3 year olds, step by step: A Program for children and families. New York: Children’s Resources International, Inc.
  4. Kontos, S., A. Wilcox-Herzog. 1997. Teachers’ interactions with children: Why are they so important? Young Child 52:4-12.
  5. Moerk, E. L. 2000. The guided acquisition of first language skills. Advances in Applied Dev Psychol 20:248.
  6. Pikulski, J. J., Templeton, S. 2004. Teaching and developing vocabulary: Key to long-term reading success. Geneva, IL: Houghton Mifflin Company.