The combination of digital cameras and airplanes means many parents have photos of people whom their kids have never met and places they’ve never been. These photos can be used in myriad ways to encourage language skills.
One way to start is to simply tell kids the stories behind the photos. Choose just a couple and judge your child’s interest level. This is not supposed to be torture! Your words will expose your child to important communication skills like narrative structure, audience awareness, and the importance of description. You begin with a concrete item (the photo) but move into abstract discussion (the story surrounding the photo). Most importantly, you demonstrate to your child that you value using language to communicate.
ELL Families: We work with many parents who don’t feel fluent in English themselves but want to support their children’s studies. This sort of story-telling, in any language, will help your child’s English language skills. “Fluency” is not only knowing the vocabulary and grammar of the language, but also being able to put that knowledge together to create an entirely new sentence. Doing that in your first language will help your child do it in many languages.