When I speak with parents of children with language disorders, one common concern I hear is that my child can’t tell me about his school day. This concern makes sense. It’s natural for a parent to want to know about their child’s day and to be able to talk about school. However, children with language disorders demonstrate significant difficulty with this question. Why? Well, because it is such an open-ended question. If your child struggles to answer more structured questions, such as who, what, and where questions, then he/she will not be ready to answer challenging open-ended questions.
How can you help your child?
First, be in touch with their teacher. Maybe you already have a communication log that you use to write back and forth to the teacher. Ask the teacher to write down a few activities that your child participated in that day. If you know what your child did in school, it will be easier to elicit accurate responses. Lets say you find out that your child listened to a story about bears, ate pizza for lunch, and colored a picture of a flower. You can now help prompt your child to tell about their day.
Instead of asking your child the broad question of How was your day?, ask your child, What story did you listen to today?. If your child has difficulty with this question, provide them with options such as, Did you read about a frog or a bear?. You can also provide your child with a phrase completion, such as You read a story about a ______. See if your child is able to fill in the blank. These types of prompts should allow your child to talk about their day successfully.
You can also write to your child’s teacher about some things he/she did at home. Now the classroom teacher can ask your child about their weekend or about what he/she did at home the previous night. Be specific. For example, Last night Bobby listened to the story Cat in the Hat, ate pasta, and played with his Thomas train. Providing the teacher with this information will allow your child to be prompted appropriately, leading to more successful and accurate responses.
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