We’ve heard baby talk is bad. We know the importance of talking to our babies even though they don’t understand. Babies need to hear things they can’t possibly understand so they can develop speech and understanding.

But what about our toddlers and preschoolers? What about our school-age kids? It can be so tempting to think we need to curate everything to their level. But just like babies, our young kids learn so much when we don’t dumb things down for them.

Here are three ways to go over your kid’s head:

Have Adult Conversations

Now, I don’t suggest discussing ISIS around your four-year old, but there is no reason not to let our young kids overhear normal, adult dinner conversations. Yes, this might mean half a dozen reminders that “We’ve talked with you. Now mommy and daddy are talking for a couple of minutes,” but our kids need to hear conversations (even disagreements) from adults. What else will they model their communication after?

Read Aloud

Let’s read to our kids. Even after they start reading themselves. Let’s read quality literature above their own reading level. And then discuss it. It’s amazing what they pick up. And we don’t have to dumb it down for them. There’s no need to change difficult words into ones they’ll understand. Hearing words over and over in context will teach our kids their meaning. Or they’ll ask you what it means and you can tell them.

Display Advanced Materials

When someone was getting rid of their college level nursing text all about the heart, I grabbed it. There are some amazing illustrations and I figured it might be useful someday so I set it on the shelf with our other books. When our seven-year old heard us discussing a baby with some heart problems, she ran to grab the book and started reading in hopes she could discover the solution to this baby’s ailment.

Now, this isn’t a brag post: she didn’t understand a word of what she was attempting to read. But it allowed us to discuss doctors and education and some basic anatomy…all things we probably would’ve missed out on if I’d put the book up on the top shelf until it was age appropriate.

We also keep our globe readily accessible and both of my kids consistently ask questions about geography. Now our three-year old doesn’t really understand how far away Africa is, but he’s being exposed to different places early on. It won’t be a shock to him that the U.S. isn’t the only place in the world: he’s known that since he could talk.

How do you go over your kids’ heads?