“What did you do in School Today?” – for Parents with Preschoolers

The way that you connect with your children on a daily basis is so important for their social and cognitive development.  What do you do when you ask your children a question about their day and they say nothing or cannot tell you anything new?

First and foremost, understand that very few preschoolers are able to answer such open-ended questions.  Preschoolers are concrete thinkers, unable to verbalize past events unless there is something available (such as a picture or toy) to help them remember, or the activity or event was so fun/exciting/memorable to them that they prioritize it in their thoughts.

Here are a few “conversation starters” for helping your child:

  • Look around the classroom, hallways and/or in book bags for pictures, art activities or classwork. Then comment on what you see (e.g., “Look at all of these dots.  You made the letter _____.”).  Let your child fill in the answer.  Don’t forget to use the information from your child’s classroom plans as a way to stimulate conversation about the day.
  • Be specific about an activity and give choices (e.g., “Did you have apple juice or water at snack?” or “It’s a sunny day today. Did you go outside?  What was your favorite thing to do outside?”).
  • Ask “who” questions to stimulate naming a specific friend or teacher (e.g., “Who did you sit next to at Circle today?”).
  • Affirm all of your child’s answers and comments.

Don’t shy away from asking your child about their day, but instead just change the way you ask! Good luck! 

-Nicole Reynolds, M.S. CCC-SLP

**If you have any concerns with your child’s speech, language, and/or feeding development, please contact Deborah L. Curlee Communication Consultants at (865) 693-5622. We have a team of experienced speech-language pathologists that would love to meet with you and discuss options for your child. **

A Parent’s Guide to Expanding Language Part 3: Bath time & Anytime

This is part three of a series! If you missed the other posts, you can find PART ONE and PART TWO here!

Language is ongoing. We use it constantly. Therefore, with these language ideas, it doesn’t have to feel like “homework.” You can be using them in daily living activities while you are doing the essentials as a parent you are already doing, such as giving your child a bath, going shopping for groceries, driving in the car, at mealtimes, and many more activities.

Below are a few more ideas of how to incorporate language into ordinary activities to help your child’s expressive language skills progress.

Bath time

Bath time is fantastic! It’s fun, and it involves play, so it’s a perfect setting to work on language while a child is having a fun time. Get those “Wh” questions flowing again:

  • What do we do with soap?
  • What does the water feel like?
  • Where do we take a bath?
  • When do we take a bath?
  • What is shampoo/conditioner used for?
  • Why should we take a bath?

Bath time is typically a daily routine. This is a great setting to talk about the steps for taking a bath to help a child with sequencing ideas:

  • Tell me the steps to washing your hair / taking a bath.
  • Use words such as “first, then, next, etc.”
  • What did you use BEFORE the conditioner?

Again, this is great way to incorporate various vocabulary, verbs, and concepts, such as opposites and descriptors. Bath time gives you an opportunity to introduce comparing and contrasting ideas that we talked about in the first two posts. When you ask, “What does the water feel like?”, for example, you can introduce “warm” or “cool” for the water temperature or comparatives like “hotter” or “colder”. You can also introduce:

  • before/after
  • wet/dry
  • clean/dirty
  • body parts
  • verbs
    • pour, blow (bubbles), scrub
    • floating, washing, splashing
    • crash, bump (toys crash into another toy)

ANYTIME – Strategies to try throughout your day!

  • Attention
    • Give full attention to your child when he/she is talking. We want our children to feel encouraged to express their thoughts! Make sure you give them direct eye contact and you’re not just “half listening” or it may discourage them from having a conversation.
  • Make sure they are fully paying attention to you when you are talking. If their head is faced down to the tablet in their lap, they probably won’t notice your language-rich narration about the bird out the window.
  • Talk
    • about what you are doing
    • where you are going
    • what you will do when you arrive  
    • who/what you will see

  • Count
    • shoes at the door
    • socks in a drawer
    • silverware on the table
    • cupcakes being frosted
  • Expand utterances
    • Introduce an unfamiliar word and offer its definition or use it in a context that’s easily understood. For older children, introduce higher level concepts such as “vehicle”
      • ex: I think I will drive the car, or vehicle, to the store.
    • Expand on what child says.
      • ex: If the child points to the cat’s nose, say: “Yes, that’s her nose. What does she do with her nose? She smells her food and the outside air. What do you do with your nose? You smell flowers and popcorn!”

As you can see, language is a continuous concept. It is a part of every activity that we do every day. As a parent, you can influence your child’s language skills just by modeling and providing more opportunities for him/her to use them! Good luck!

-Shannon Greenlee M.A., CCC-SLP

**If you have any concerns with your child’s speech, language, and/or feeding development, please contact Deborah L. Curlee Communication Consultants at (865) 693-5622. We have a team of experienced speech-language pathologists that would love to meet with you and discuss options for your child. **