Young children are constantly learning — everything is new to them. Here
are some adult-child interaction strategies that will help foster children’s
active learning and development.

Join children in their play. Get on the floor with children, join them at
a table or in the sandbox, play games with them — become engaged
in what they are doing!

Imitate what the children are doing; that is, play with the same
materials in the same way as the children.
For example, an adult
gives Emma a portion of play dough that has marbles hidden inside.
Emma squeezes the dough with both hands. The adult also squeezes
the dough with both hands.

Make observations and comments about what you see the
children doing.
While watching Emma squeeze the play dough with
the marbles hidden inside, the adult comments, “It looks like you have
lots of marbles in your dough.” Emma responds, “Yeah, and I am
going to pick them out and line ’em up.”

Ask open-ended questions, but not too many. Open-ended
questions encourage children to talk more, because these types of
questions cannot be answered by a simple yes or no.
For example, an
adult lays out puzzle pieces and asks Nathan, “What do you think this
puzzle picture might be?” Nathan responds, “I think it’s a bear
because…look…it’s furry.” Rather than asking more questions about
why Nathan thinks it looks furry, the adult waits until he completes the
puzzle and comments, “It looks like you were right; it is a big, grizzly
bear.” Questions can help get a conversation going, but it is more
important not to overwhelm a child with too many questions.

Follow children’s pace and interests. Belinda was measuring the
number of giant steps to the garage at her grandma’s house. She then
turned around at the garage door and decided to make “tiptoe” steps
to the sidewalk. Her grandma followed Belinda by making tiptoe steps
to the sidewalk.