Quiet classrooms do not mean that young children are learning. In fact, since oral language is very important during the early years, quiet classrooms may indicate that young children are not learning all they could be.

Talking gives a child the opportunity to experiment with new words. It provides the vehicle for expressing ideas and testing current knowledge. Shared experiences are important; they give children something to talk about. Children learn the nuances of communication in groups by trying out their language skills. For example, they learn what a question sounds like and how loud is loud enough.

Using words and talking about how things work, making comparisons, and retelling experiences lead to increased intellectual development. When children reconstruct experiences, sequence events, and point out similarities or differences, they are clearly engaging in higher-level thinking skills. And when kids are encouraged to ask questions, they not only gain information from adults’ responses but also build their competence-and confidence-as active seekers of knowledge and understanding.

The vocabularies children use in reading and writing are based on the words they are familiar with from listening and speaking. But expanded vocabularies and other aspects of language growth occur through using language. Talking in the classroom may be a little noisy, but positive results are easily heard!

Adapted from Family Friendly Communications by Diffy & Morrison for NAEYC