From the time your child can reach and grab, she'll likely be reaching for your telephone. By the time she's a toddler, she is mimicking you talking on the phone. When your child reaches kindergarten, it is important to teach her that there is more to the phone than just picking it up and saying hello. Engage your child in telephone activities that include learning phone numbers and phone etiquette.
Learn About Telephones
Teach your child about the history of telephones and how they work. You can read books to your child about Alexander Graham Bell, who invented the first working telephone. Check out, "Listen Up! Alexander Graham Bell's Talking Machine," by Monica Kulling, for kids ages 5 and older, which transports children back to 1876 when Bell is preparing to debut his invention at the world fair. "Alexander Graham Bell," by Lola Schaefer, for kids 4 and older, provides more biographical background on the famous inventor, including highlighting his other achievements.
Phone Number Songs
It is important to teach your child your home and cell phone numbers, as well as emergency phone numbers as early as possible. 911 won't be too hard for your child to remember, but you should strongly emphasize that it is only to be used for very important emergencies. Be sure to give examples. Learning important 10-digit phone numbers will be tougher for children. One idea is to help your child remember is to set the numbers to popular children's songs that your child is already familiar with. For example, for a tune set to "Mary Had a Little Lamb," you might sing "I am learning my phone number, my phone number, my phone number, I am learning my phone number and this is how it goes: 555-555-555, 555-555-5555 and that is my home number." You may have to tweak the rhythms of the songs a bit to make them work with phone numbers.
Make a paper telephone craft with your child that she can use to practice making phone calls. For a simple telephone craft, have you child draw button squares on piece of white card stock and fill in the buttons according to how they look on a telephone key pad. Cut a phone receiver shape out of card stock of any color. Hole punch a corner of the paper and one end of the receiver and tie a string to it. Your child can pretend to pick up the receiver and practice pretending to call important numbers. For a more complex telephone craft, paint a shoe box and lid a solid color. Secure the lid to to the shoe box with non-toxic school glue. When dry, have your child draw a telephone keypad from construction paper and paste it onto the box. Punch two small holes in the top corners of the box. Shape pipe cleaners to create a Y shape and stick then in the holes to create a receiver holder. Cut out a cardboard receiver to complete the phone.
Teach your child how to answer the phone politely. Depending on your preference, you may want to teach your child to answer the phone with "Hello, this is Lily, how may I help you?" or "Hello, Johnson residence." Teach your child that if the person on the other end asks to speak to someone, she should respond with, "May I ask who's calling?" As your child is quite young, you might want to teach her to say, "Please hold on, I will get my mom or dad for you." Emphasize the importance of being polite when your child calls someone, such as saying "Hello, may I please speak to Grandma?" Use pretend phones to "call" your child so she can practice. Some books that might help you teach your child phone etiquette include "Manners on the Telephone," by Carrie Finn and "Good Manners on the Telephone," by Katie Marsico, both of which offer easy-to-understand phone guidelines for children 5 and older.