Childhood milestones: Communication at six years
Language acquisition starts to take place quite rapidly when a child turns six. They learn about 5-10 words a day. They start to be able to talk through simple problem solving, and they are developing the ability to be inquisitive, curious and enthusiastic. Their perceptions about their self are influenced by others around them, including their teachers, for example.
Tips for communicating with six-year-olds
1. Ask your child to tell you how they are feeling
At the age of six, your child is developing perceptions about their self in relation to external influences. This means it’s important to check-in with them and ask them how they are feeling.
This is particularly relevant for children with same-sex parents, as sometimes our children are made to feel different due to being part of an LGBTI family. Before this age, they may feel that they are the same as others, but as they get older, other children around them may begin to highlight differences.
This is why it’s particularly important to provide opportunities for your child to express how they are feeling. Providing these types of opportunities for self-expression will also help you know what’s happening in their internal world.
2. Ask them to talk out loud and explain to you what they are doing
Usually, children start to develop problem-solving behavior when they are five years old. Then, around the age of six, they begin to be able to talk through simple problem-solving behavior more adequately.
3. Understand your child in context
When your child is six, external influences will impact upon their feelings, the ways they can process information and their thoughts. Appreciate that this is the case. Consider how the world around them may be influencing them, their ability to communicate and what they are able or willing to share.
4. Feed them new words
When your child is six they start to rapidly acquire new words. Help them acquire these by feeding them new words. This will help optimize and extend their vocabulary.
Do this in a fun way. Making it fun will keep them interested and engaged. Play lots of games that require them to learn, guess and rehearse new words. Be careful not to overdo this though, as you don’t want your child to feel discouraged, which they may do if they feel they are constantly being tested. Always praise them for joining in and having a go. Be positive and strengths-based.
5. Modify your approach and enjoy yourself
All of these tips will work best if you modify your approach based on your child’s abilities, their progress, their environment and the task they are focusing on. Enjoy watching your child develop as you may notice some remarkable growth. Communicating with your child is one of the most pleasurable and rewarding experiences for both a parent and a child to have.
Kertoy MK. Poulsen AA. Using Language to Motivate. (2013) In J Ziviani. AA Poulsen, M Cuskelly. (eds). The Art and Science of Motivation. Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. pp. 159-191.