Why is conversation so critical for your child’s development?

When you picture a classroom, what do you see? Scenes from Charlie Brown, Ferris Bueller, or A Christmas Story might jump to mind: a teacher standing behind a desk at the front of a classroom, lecturing at a chalkboard, while children sit quietly facing forward.

But this one-sided communication is the opposite of what young children need to learn and develop. A recent study from MIT demonstrated that back-and-forth conversation is a key factor in developing language skills and improving neural processing in children ages 4-6. The study shows that brain development is not just about the amount of information or number of words children are hearing, it’s about how they engage.

“The important thing is not just to talk to your child, but to talk with your child,” says Rachel Romeo, the lead author of the MIT study. The study emphasizes having these kinds of interactions with your child at home, but it’s just as important to consider how that translates to their school environment.

At Willow, classrooms buzz with excited back-and-forth conversation between students and teachers at every grade level. Willow’s small classes ensure that these one-on-one exchanges happen every day. Throughout the year, parents are also invited into the classrooms for celebrations and activities that help you continue the conversation about what your child is learning at home.

Willow’s emphasis on dialogue is baked into our educational philosophy, where children are encouraged to pursue their interests and collaborate with their teachers, integrating their passions into their education and developing a strong love of learning. Because of this, they are almost always working on something they’re excited to talk about!

“If you walk through Willow, you encounter a learning community filled with students who love to tell you what they are working on at school, and teachers and staff that listen and converse with every child,” said Sally Zeiner, Director of Admissions at Willow. “Teachers at Willow take the time to listen to their students, and to be present for real, meaningful conversations.”

Schedule a tour today to see the conversations in our classrooms first-hand!