The boys and I were driving to t-ball practice last night. We past a moving truck parked on the side of the road (not near any houses). Blake says "Mommy what kind of truck is that?" I said "it's a moving truck" Then there is a pause and he says to me "But, Mommy it's not going anywhere".
Sometimes we say things to children expecting them to know what we mean. We often forget that a lot of things in our language have many different meanings depending on the context of the situation. I have never spoken "down" to my sons. I talk to them pretty much the same way I would to any other person. This is the best way to expand a child's spoken vocabulary hence increasing their reading vocabulary. Children will often figure out what you mean by using the context of the statement. But, there are times that we have to step back and explain what we are saying. As in the story above. Blake knows that the truck isn't in motion at the time. So, even though he has seen moving vans in our neighborhood before he did not make the connection to the truck that was just parked on the side of the road. It took a minute of me explaining that it is a truck used to move people's furniture when they change houses for him to comprehend the context of a moving truck.
Often times people feel they need to simplify what they are saying in order for children to understand what is being said. When people do this on a regular basis children do not fully develop a true language pattern of speech. As adults you typically do not speak in simple sentences to your peers. If you only speak to children in simple sentences and with easily understandable words, yes your child will understand you, but are you helping to expand their knowledge?
When I give my sons directions, I use simple statements and words that I know they understand. I do this for the fact that I want them to remember what I told them to do. It also allows me to give them more than one direction at a time. But, when having a conversation with them I do not. I want them to develop a great conversation vocabulary and be able to hold their own no matter who they speak to and with.
Hope you have a great conversation with your children today. You never know what they want to share with you. Remember to check to make sure they understand all those double meaning and try to enrich their speech every day. (o: