One of the biggest worries that parents have is that their child finds it hard to understand what is being said. This is important to address because it can greatly impact a child’s ability to follow instructions, respond to questions, learn in class, keep up with their peers, and follow conversations.
Here are 10 things you can do to support your child's understanding.
1. Speak Slower:
These days, our talking reflects the fast-paced nature of our day. When speaking to your child, try to speak using a slower pace. This will make your speech sound clearer to them and will also give them more time to process what you are saying.
2. Build Vocabulary:
When your child comes across a word that they do not know, explain the meaning of this word to them. Then make a plan to use this word in a sentence a few times over the next week. By doing this with a different word each week, you are helping your child to gradually build their vocabulary, and strengthen their overall understanding.
3. Encourage Clarification:
As adults, we often ask questions when we do not understand something. You can also encourage your child to ask a question when they do not understand what has been said to them. By doing so, you are teaching your child an important life-skill.
When talking to your child, try to emphasize the key words in what you are saying by increasing your volume or putting more stress on certain words. This will direct your child’s attention to what they should focus on.
I was once assessing a five-year-old child who could not follow my simple instruction, “point to the ball”. Eventually, I realized that the child did not understand the words “point to”. I then changed the instruction to begin with “show me” instead, and after doing so, the child correctly followed the instruction. If your child has difficulty understanding what is being said, try saying it again using different words.
6. Break Things Down:
Simplify your instructions by breaking them down, rather than saying them all at once. For instance, instead of saying, “put your toys away, then brush your teeth and wear your pajamas,” you can first say, “put your toys away”. Then, once your child has completed this, you can move to the next part of the instruction, “brush your teeth”, and so on.
If your child does not understand something that you have said, say it again. You can also encourage your child to ask for repetition from you and from other people when they did not hear something the first time.
8. Use Gestures:
Try using your hands to make gestures when talking to your child to help them understand what you are saying.
9. Use Visual Supports:
Many children who have difficulty understanding what is being verbally said to them, can usually understand much better if the same information is visually presented. If your child responds well to the latter, you can build on your child's strengths by using signs and pictures at home.
If you ask your child to do something for the first time and your child does not understand what you mean, show them- after all, children learn from watching others around them.
The Expat Speechie
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