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Children who speak well feel confident both in the classroom and on the playground. You can encourage your child to feel comfortable speaking in many different situations and with different types of people by focusing on speaking skills at home.
Here are eight ways to raise an articulate child:
Be an avid listener
When your child tells you about his day, put down your newspaper, stop making dinner, and give him your undivided attention. If he feels as if he has center-stage when he talks to you, it will be easier for him to open up.
Use good grammar and appropriate language
Don't dumb down your speech when you talk to your child. Children are copycats and will imitate whatever you say – so instill good speech habits early. (And if you don't want your child to learn to curse, watch your own language!)
Correct mispronunciations and grammatical errors consistently but discreetly
If your child mispronounces a word or makes some other speech mistake, simply repeat the phrase back to him correctly and move on. For example, if he says, "I had pasghetti for lunch today," just say, "Did you like the spaghetti?" If you dwell on his mistake, you'll only make him more self-conscious about speaking.
Build his vocabulary
The most natural way to do this is to use different words to describe the same object whenever possible. For example, a dog can be a shepherd, a terrier, a collie, and so on. English is a very rich language; use synonyms as much as you can.
Ask open-ended questions
If you ask your child, "Did you have a good day at school today?" you're asking for a one-word answer. But if you ask, "What did you do after recess today?" you'll inspire him to describe what happened.
Encourage him to read aloud
By now your child can probably read a simple chapter book to you, so spend time each day reading together. (More on raising a child who loves to read.)
Give your child many chances to talk to adults and older children
To help your child gain confidence talking to grown-ups, let him order food at a fast-food drive-thru or place his own order with the waitress at a restaurant. And refrain from answering for him when other adults ask him questions.
Play games that encourage speaking
For a list of ideas, see our fun activities to promote speaking article.