Resources

Smart Talk

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Language and literacy development is the result of ongoing positive experiences—experiences that begin the moment your child is born.

Responsive, back-and-forth conversations using new and different words will help your child become a strong reader and succeed in school.
Resources and Tools

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What Is Smart Talk?

Smart Talk is having quality back-and-forth “conversations” with your child that are loving and responsive and introduce new words.

Wait a minute. How do you have a ‘conversation’ with a baby?

Babies obviously can’t talk at birth, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t communicating. Eye contact, facial expressions, crying, smiles and touch are all ways your child communicates with you.

So, what is a ‘quality’ conversation?

  • listen and respond
  • ask questions
  • use caring, loving tone
  • introduce new words

Do I need special training for this?
You don’t need special tools or training for Smart Talk and you should talk in the language you are most comfortable with—Spanish, English, Navajo, etc. Children often easily transfer skills from one language to another—making them multi-lingual from an early age.

How do I do Smart Talk?
Take advantage of everyday moments—meal time, bath time, getting dressed, diaper changes, play time are great opportunities for Smart Talk.

Here’s how:

describeTalk about what you are doing, where you are, or what you see.
askAsk open-ended questions (who, what, where, when, why)—even if your child can’t respond with words.
respondBe sure to listen and respond to your child. Emphasize the back and forth in everyday activities by reacting to what your child does or says.
readA simple way to introduce new and unusual words and build vocabulary is by telling stories or reading books.
repeatRepeat words and/or echo what your child says and shows interest in.

How do I build my child’s vocabulary?
Smart Talk is also about using a variety of words to help stretch your child’s learning—for example, “this is a fork and it is called a utensil” or “we’re on our way to the store—you can also call it the market.”


Why Smart Talk Matters

From birth to age 3, your child’s brain develops very fast—more than at any other time in life. Smart Talk can help your baby or toddler grow in ways that promote learning and support later reading success.

Smart Talk is for parents and caregivers of young children (ages 0-3) to gain a deeper understanding about the importance of quality, back-and-forth conversations. Smart Talk is designed to help strengthen the skills and confidence of parents and caregivers as they support their child’s learning and development at home.

Research shows that the quality of a child’s experiences in the first few years of life—positive or negative—help shape his or her brain development and ability to learn and succeed in school and in life. Research also tells us that a child’s success in school has a lot to do with the quality and quantity of words spoken to the child in the first three years of life.

So, talking with your child early and often helps his or her ability to learn new words. Knowing a lot of words, or having a strong vocabulary, makes it easier for children to follow instructions, express their feelings when they are frustrated, and develop the ability to read.

Reading by the end of third grade is critical. Research shows that third grade reading level often predicts how well students perform in ninth grade, whether or not they graduate high school, and if they go on to attend college.

Smart Talk is for parents and caregivers of young children (0-3) to gain a deeper understanding about the importance of quality, back-and-forth conversations.

Smart Talk offers tips and resources, such as conversation starters, to help strengthen the skills and confidence of parents and caregivers as they support their child’s learning and development at home.

Elements of Smart Talk are inspired by the State of Georgia’s language development initiative called Talk With Me Baby. Read On Arizona extends its thanks and appreciation to the State of Georgia for their generosity in sharing materials and learnings.