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Encouraging Communication Development in School Aged Children

Communication is vital for all of life… at home, in the playground and as a basis for all learning in the classroom. There are many things parents and care givers can do to support the development of communication skills… here’s a few ideas…

Set limits on screen time.

Encourage and set up opportunities for your child to play; with you, as a family, with siblings and friends.

Spend time with your child – experience things together, explain things, make up stories together, discuss what you are doing or things that have happened.

Specifically praise good talking, good listening and good attention.

Listening – give your child your attention, face them, look at them, reflect back to them what they’ve said, how they look and feel about things e.g. ‘Oh your face looks sad, that must have been hard for you’.

If your child says a word incorrectly praise them for a ‘good try’ and repeat the word back to them correctly. Don’t make the child try and say it again the right way e.g. Child says ‘twuck’, adult says ‘Yes, it’s a big truck’.

Speaking – use clear speech, a varied vocabulary, appropriate eye contact, body language, voice volume and pitch patterns i.e. a loud voice is for outside, high pitch at the end of sentences for questions.

Look at things together, encourage your child to make observations, describe things, ask questions, categorise things.

Step back, watch, wait and listen to your child.

You can then add to what they are saying, make comments, answer questions.

Expand on what your child has said. For example ‘Yes, that was a sports car… it had a sunroof and lots of cool accessories.’

Commentate on what they are doing. For example ‘Here he comes, riding his scooter with style and precision!’

Help your child order their story – label beginning, middle, end. For example ‘What happened first… and then… and then how does it end?’

Extend the length of instructions you give e.g. ‘Put your shoes in the cupboard, bring out your schoolbag and put your lunch box on the bench’.

Increase the level of complexity of instructions e.g. ‘Put the cup on the left side of the sink’.

Model reading as a positive, enjoyable and productive activity.

Read books to your child:

  • Emphasise the sounds of words, rhyming words etc.
  • Explain the meaning of words or concepts
  • Discuss the concepts, the order, the location
  • Predict the ending or make up other endings

‘Share’ books with your child – look, describe, talk about what’s happening in the pictures, ask questions e.g. ‘what might happen next?’

Audio books – great for trips in the car and for sharing stories and experiences together.

I spy or I ‘hear’ with my little ear something beginning with.. e.g. ‘sh’… ‘shower’.

Rhyming words – ‘What’s a word that sounds like cat?- hat bat mat’.

Words that start with, end with e.g. ‘Say as many words tarting with ’s’- ‘snake, sally…’

Categories e.g. take turns naming all the things you can find in a bathroom.

Praise, Praise, Praise your child!

Immediate, specific and genuine praise will encourage attempts to improve and lead to change in specific skills. For example ‘you were listening so well just then!’ And ‘that was a great story you told, I liked how you said what happened at the start, the middle and the end!’

Have fun and enjoy communicating with your child.
Communication is priceless gift.



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