The ability to describe something is an important skill for your child to learn.
Using describing words to talk about colour, size, shape, function and other characteristics can deepen your child’s knowledge of words and how they are organised. Using describing words also gives the listener a clear picture in their head so they can visualise the object being described. Children first need to develop describing words in speaking and can then use them in written work such as writing stories later on in school.
Play “I spy” – instead of giving the first letter of the word, gives clues such as the category, colour, size, function, shape and parts they have. (e.g. “I spy with my little eye… something that is a type of fruit, it is red, it is round and smooth, and is for eating (apple)”).
20 questions – describe a hidden picture or object, and the other person asks questions about its characteristics. (e.g. toy car “Is it a toy? Is it big? Does it make noises? Does it have wheels?” etc.).
Helping out with jobs – Let your child help when putting away shopping or hanging out the washing. Ask your child to give you items based on a simple description (e.g. Pass me something small, in a jar, and it’s red (jam)”).
Most things we do in life tend to follow a usual order – washing the car, feeding the dog, making a cake. Children need to learn these typical sequences, and how to put them together in order, from first to last. Retelling a sequence can also help your child in their story-telling.
Here are some simple things you can do at home to support your child’s sequencing:
Model sequence words – model words like first, next, then & last through daily activities such as getting dressed, doing the washing; making a sandwich etc.
Let your child perform a task while you tell them what to do; then get your child to tell you what to do – do it exactly as they say; even if it’s out of order.
Tell your child a story and then discuss the story in the sequence that it happened. Ask your child to draw the story in picture squares to show the correct sequence (i.e. First, next, and then, at the end etc.)
Retelling a Sequence – talk about each step before and as you are doing it. When you have finished doing the activity, ask your child to tell you how you did/made it – or ask them to re-tell the steps to someone else so that they can make one too, emphasising the connecting words like first, next, finally.
Example – ‘Making a Honey Sandwich’
1) First you need to get 2 slices of bread, a jar of honey, plate, knife and margarine.
2) Next you spread margarine on the bread, with the knife.
3) Then you spread honey on the bread.
4) Next you put the other slice of bread on top and cut the sandwich in half.
A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun (e.g. he, she, his, her, myself etc.). Children with Developmental Language Disorder often have difficulty with pronouns. Pronoun errors can include;
“Me want to go” instead of “I want to go”
“He is playing” instead of “she is playing”
“Him hurt himself” instead of “he hurt himself”
Here are some strategies you can use to help your child use the correct pronouns;
Provide a good model for your child by using pronouns in conversation and games
Use pronouns when describing pictures in story books (g. “look, she is jumping! She is jumping really high”)
If your child makes a pronoun error, repeat back what they said with the correct pronoun (g. Child – “he is playing”, Adult – “she is playing. She is playing soccer. I think she likes playing soccer.). Emphasise the pronoun and model its use as many times as possible.
A narrative, or story, tells us about an event or series of events and can be real or made-up. Learning to tell stories is important for the development of social skills (many social interactions we have are based on telling stories about our own experiences) and educational skills (it helps children to understand what they have read in books and to write good stories).
Talk to your childduring every day routines – Talk about what your child is doing as they complete each step, and then ask your child to tell you what they did. These routines can include brushing teeth, getting dressed or making breakfast. (e.g. “First, you put on your pants. Next, you put on your shirt. After that you put on your socks, and last you put on your shoes.”)
Baking – Discuss “What are all the things we need?” (including utensils, ingredients etc.). Talk about the steps involved as you do them. (e.g. making cookies. “We need a mixing bowl … etc. First, we are going to measure the butter and the sugar…”).
Ask your child to tell you what they did at school – ask questions such as “what did you play with?” or “what did you do at lunch time” for more information.
Puppets – Have your puppet tell a story or series of events to your child’s puppet. You could also encourage your child to use different voices (e.g. loud, soft, angry).
While grocery shopping with children can sometimes be stressful, there are ways of turning this regular outing into an opportunity for interaction, conversation, and fun! There is a lot to see and do at the grocery store that can support your child’s language development!
Before you go shopping
Prepare your child –by telling them where you are going and involve them in making a shopping list. (e.g. talk to your child about the things you need, or ask them to draw pictures of items to buy).
While you shop
Refer to the shopping list (e.g. let your child help you locate some items on the list or tell you what you need next),
Add language (e.g. talk about the things you are seeing (trolleys, workers, checkouts), experiencing (feeling cold in fridge and freezer aisles) and buying, including labelling the items, describing them, where you store them, what they are used for etc.)
Point out print (g. you can point out the numbers and wording on the aisle signage by pointing up and asking “Let’s look for aisle 6.”)
When you get home
Let your child help you put away the groceries, talk about what each item is and where they go (e.g. emphasize location words such as in the cupboard, on the shelf, in the freezer, up high, down low, beside the cereal, under the sink, etc.).
Set up a pretend grocery store – Children often pretend about things they have experienced first-hand. Keep empty boxes and package so you can set up a pretend grocery store at home.