Another helpful handout combined with personal notes I received from a class at Kids on the Move.
This talks specifically about how to use 'turn-taking' to encourage communication with your children.
Conversation: Turn-Taking with Communication
When we talk about conversations, we are really saying that we take turns listening to and talking with our conversational partner about our daily experiences, feelings and ideas - we are taking turns as we communicate. Interactive turn-taking is a foundation to prepare for more mature conversations. It helps to develop the habit of attending to and responding to each other in turns. Turn-taking can be practiced with your actions and voice, like blinking your eyes, imitating gestures, putting toys in a box or playing with cooing, babbling, or animal sounds. Through turn-taking you build a "give-and-take" relationship in a conversational style.
A basic assumption of language is that the child learns to communicate and acquire speech and language during all daily interactions and conversation with you. The child's receptive and expressive language grows through watching, listening and having conversational turns with you about what is important. Thus, the more turn-taking and conversations you do together the more the child will learn how to communicate and acquire speech and language.
My Turn / Your Turn
Here are 3 strategies to help your child communicate more effectively by taking turns.
Follow Your Child's Lead
Give your child a chance to communicate
Stop and watch your child
Do what your child does; imitate your child in whatever activity they are doing
Keep It Going
Put yourself down at your child's physical level
Get down to eye level - they wont feel so overwhelmed, and they'll recognize that you are paying attention to them
Try not to anticipate your child's needs (play dumb)
Give them a chance to initiate interaction
By playing dumb, you are forcing your child to communicate, rather than just providing them all of their needs. Pretend not to know what they want.
Its all about timing. You want to challenge your child, but don't force them over the edge into a tantrum. Once your child is tantruming, they are past the 'teachable' point.
Watch and listen carefully
Feel the need to respond to whatever sound/imitation they do (forces them into interaction)
Their attempts may be small or hard to recognize, so pay attention
Reaching, looking, and making a noise are all attempts at interaction
Give meaning to their initiations
Respond as much as possible.
If you don't understand what your child is saying, don't reply with "oh, really?", or "ok", etc. These phrases don't give meaning to anything. Instead:
Turn their actions/words into something.
For example: if baby is babbling "ba, ba, ba", you say, "ba, ba, ba, baby!", or "yep, here is a book". Always make it meaningful.
Help Your Child Go Further
Things that may discourage your child from taking a turn
Caregiver taking too many turns (uninterupted repetition)
Don't be afraid to wait
Expect a response from your child when it is their turn
Say "do you want more?"... and look at them like you expect an answer. It may take time for them to process what you are asking. Wait 2-5 seconds, and if they don't respond, say something like "yep, here is some more".
Doing the activity at a different level than your child
Not sharing a topic with your child
Not attending to quiet turns