Supporting Expressive Language Skills at Home

November 12, 2009 at 12:54 am Leave a comment

Children with expressive language needs often have difficulty explaining their ideas clearly, retelling experiences or finding the best words to use when communicating.  The following are some suggestions for accommodating and supporting expressive language needs in day-to-day interactions with your child.  These are targeted especially towards pre-K and early elementary-aged kids, however they can be beneficial for all children.

1.  Be Patient

Often just a little extra wait time is all a child needs to find an evasive word or begin to express his or her thoughts.  Wait patiently before interjecting.

2.  Ask Specific Questions

Rather than asking your child a broad, open-ended question like, “What did you do at school today?” ask specific questions to give your child a context and some organization like, “What did you make in art class today?” or “Who did you play with at recess?”

3.  Use Verbal Sentence Starters When Needed

Many children have difficulty getting started in a conversation.  Direct the conversation, especially when your child is sharing with an adult he or she might not be familiar with.  For example, rather than saying, “Go talk to Grandma” help your child formulate a context for a conversation by suggesting, “Go tell Grandma about our trip to the store.  We bought…”  Using a sentence starter can be just the support a child needs to get started sharing a story and it gives the listener background information which will prevent a communication breakdown.

4.  Take Responsibility for Communication Breakdowns

If you do not understand your child, put the breakdown upon yourself by saying, “I did not understand that.  Could you say it again a different way, please?”  Other strategies to support retrieval and organization of language include asking a child to show you what he or she means with gestures or a picture.

5.  Use Prompting Questions

To get information from your child, ask basic who, what, where, when or why questions to elicit details.  Then, when you have relevant details, help him or her formulate stories by restating those details.  For example, “Oh, you and Michael played basketball today.  So what did you do with Michael?  Today Michael and I…”


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Speech Sound Development Supporting Reading Comprehension Skills at Home

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