When you ask your child about their day at school, they may simply say “good”. When children give brief responses it can be difficult to keep the conversation going. The following strategies can help to extend conversation.
Talk about a topic that is of interest to your child.
Use objects (e.g. a toy, or pictures and photographs) to encourage discussion.
Ask open-ended questions to encourage longer responses, rather than answering “yes/no” (e.g. “what did you like about school today?” or “what was your favourite part of the movies?”).
Encourage your child to retell stories, talk about their favourite TV show, or explain the rules of a game to generate extended conversation.
Give your child thinking time. Wait a little longer to allow them to express ideas and gather their thoughts.
When your child continues trying to complete a task, even when it is difficult or boring– this is called persistence. It’s important for children to understand that the harder they try, the better they will get at doing that activity. Teaching your child to be persistent at an early age has many long-term benefits, especially as demands increase in later schooling. Encourage your child to keep at it and not to give up!
You can help your child to be persistent by encouraging them to:
Finish an activity, such as a puzzle, even if they ask for help & are struggling
Not give up too quickly when playing a difficult game
Keep trying when learning something new
Finish a chore without complaining about how boring it is.
Remember to praise your child when they show persistence and try to be specific so they know exactly what behaviour you are encouraging…
“I’m proud of you for working so hard.”
“Great job, you didn’t give up even when you found it tricky!”
“Remember, the more you practise the better you become!”
“Good for you! You finished and didn’t give up, even though you found it a bit boring.”
(Adapted from: “You Can Do It!” a Social-Emotional Learning program by Michael E. Bernard, 2004)
Play has benefits for children’s imagination, creativity, language, social and cognitive development. Most importantly, the interaction in play is extremely important for children to develop their language skills – it provides an opportunity to learn new words and sentences and practice using social language.
Provide lots of opportunities to play with your child (reduce the amount of ‘screen-time’ on the TV and iPad).
Engage in pretend (or imaginative) play with your child. You may need to show your child how to pretend play – such as being a doctor, playing mums and dads, pretend cooking, etc. You might need to help show your child how to think creatively and imaginatively, and model language to use while playing (e.g. “Let’s pretend we are making a cake. This stick can be our mixing spoon, and we can put leaves, sand and water in to make our cake”)
Follow your child’s lead in play by watching to see what they are interested in – this is motivating and engaging for your child.
Show you are interested in their play by your body language and facial expressions (e.g. lean in and smile) and make comments on what they are doing (e.g. ‘that’s a huge green dinosaur!’).
For more information and fun play activity ideas, see
Tense refers to the time when something happens – in the past, present or future. Students with Developmental Language Disorder commonly have difficulties with verb tenses. This means that it is important to support your child’s use of tenses at home. Common tenses we use every day include;
present tense verbs which end in ‘ing’ (e.g. running)
regularpast tense verbs which end in ‘ed’ (e.g. jumped)
irregularpast tense verbs which are marked by changing the entire word (e.g. going -> went).
Here are some strategies which can be used to help your child understand and use tenses.
When your child uses the incorrect tense, correct them by repeating what they have said using the correct tense as many times as possible (e.g. Child: “We skip today” Parent: “Yes, we skipped today, we skipped outside”).
Model the correct use of tenses in different places and during different activities (e.g. during dinner time “I chopped the carrot”, or during shopping “I picked an apple”).
Use gesture to help your child better understand the concepts of ‘past’ and ‘future’ (e.g. point your thumbs over your shoulder to show something has happened in the past and point forwards to show something is going to happen in the future.