One of the most powerful ways to develop your child's literacy skills is also the easiest: talk to your kids! At age six, children begin to use language to explain both their outer world (what they see) and their inner world (what they think, feel and imagine). When they talk to caring adults, they can expand their vocabulary and learn more about the give-and-take of conversations — including taking turns and building on someone else's ideas.

Help your child develop speaking and listening skills:

Ask Questions
Questions are great conversation starters and can help kids explore their thinking. At this age, kids enjoy the "would you rather" game, which can be both silly and serious. For example, "Would you rather play in the snow or on a hot, sandy beach?" or "Which superpower would you rather have: super speed or the power to fly?" Follow up with "Why?" to encourage them to clarify their thoughts.

Play Guessing Games
Games such as "I Spy" and "20 Questions" teach language and reasoning skills. Give your child clues and see if she can guess what you are thinking — and then let her have a turn while you guess.

Describe Family Photos
Kids love to look at photos of people they know and events they've enjoyed. As you flip through photos together on your phone or in an album, share stories and memories!

Expand on Observations
When your child shares an observation, expand on what he notices. You can help him feel heard while teaching new information and vocabulary. When your child points out the full moon, take a moment to talk about the cycles of the moon. When your child notices a stop sign, make it a game to find and identify other traffic signs.

"Let's Find Out!”
In the age of the smartphone, the answers to many of your child's "Why?" questions are in your pocket. When kids stump you, use it as an opportunity to say, "I don't know. Let's look it up!" But before going online or to the bookshelf, first ask your child, "What do you think?"

Flip "How Was School Today?"
Are you tired of asking that question and hearing, "Fine" or "Good"? Try these questions and prompts instead:

  • Tell me something good/frustrating that happened today.
  • Tell me something that made you laugh today.
  • Where did you play at recess?
  • If you could switch seats with anyone in the class, who would you trade with? Why?

Introduce New Words in the Kitchen
Cooking is a great time to talk and teach language and math skills. Show your child what a recipe looks like, pull out and name ingredients together and describe the process of measuring, cutting and mixing.