It is easy to underestimate your child's cognitive ability, they are children, after all, and their thinking, no matter how intelligent or insightful, is rather concrete and literal compared to an adult. Though, as parents, we must navigate age appropriate content for our children, we should not shy away from speaking to them just as we would another adult, in terms of respect, vocabulary, and reasoning.
I think it is old news that baby talk is not recommended for children's language skills. They are The Great Mirrors, after all, and so what we model to them in terms of language is so important for their own developing conversational skills. But how often do you take the time to explain their curiosities in a way they can understand?
Children have an amazing ability to scaffold their understanding of new concepts by using information they already know. When your child encounters a new idea, try linking your explanation to something similar they have already mastered. Not only does it put complex concepts within your child's cognitive reach, but illuminates their capacity for creative thinking, as well.
Much of our creative language is stemmed from metaphors and similes. When we are reading a story, we don't like to be told how things actually are, we like to be shown how things feel, what they remind us of, similar experiences we have that are close to us, which triggers an emotional connection to the text. Demonstrating this through the learning process is multi-fold education.
You can even start this practice before your child acquires language. Infants and toddlers love to hear adults speak and conversate, it is how they learn to mirror our communication.
I have two young sons, ages six and four. From pregnancy and beyond, they have been mirroring back to me more than I ever could have dreamed of learning about myself and my own growth. As we grow together through this life, I hope to always mirror back to them the same inspiration, strength, and wonder they have shown me.