Did you know that a child’s literacy skills will determine how well they access the rest of the curriculum? One of the major factors is ‘receptive language skills’. This is basically the ability to understand words and language and to gain information and meaning from it.
So how can you tell if your child has problems with receptive language?
If a child has difficulties with receptive language they might:
· Have difficulty attending and listening to language.
· Not pay attention within group times at school.
· Not follow instructions that others the same age would be able to follow.
· Respond to questions by repeating what you say instead of giving an answer.
· Find it difficult to listen to stories.
· Give unusual answers to questions.
How can you help your child?
· Name items together when completing tasks, such as looking at a book, in the car, looking outside, while playing or when shopping.
· Day to day activities: When going shopping and visiting places, such as the park, zoo or museum encourage the child to talk about what you did and saw and possibly even draw or act out what happened.
· Model new words: Play activities with the child that they really enjoy and throughout the game model new words and phrases.
· Explain new concepts in different ways (e.g. looking at the concept of “wet”: use water to wet things and talk about things that are wet and dry; look at pictures of things that are “wet”; if it rains, or the child is in the bath, talk about the concept of being “wet”; make up sentences and stories about being wet/dry).
· Simon says: Take turns with the child in following and giving instructions. Also, gradually increase the length of the command that is provided (e.g. ‘Simon says touch your toes’; ‘Simon says first touch your toes, then clap your hands’; ‘Simon says before you shout hurrah, count to 10’). Additionally, reinforce body parts (e.g. pat your head, pull your ear) and simple verbs (e.g. jump, shake) when playing the activity.
· Obstacle course: Put together an obstacle course in the house or outside in the backyard. Take turns with the child in following and giving instructions. Gradually increase the length of the command that is provided (e.g. run to the sandpit; first run to the sandpit then crawl over to the bikes).
· Feely bag game: Place different everyday items/objects (e.g. toothbrush, car, cup, block) into a bag. Take turns with the child in taking an item out of the bag. Encourage the child to:
§ Reach into the bag and try to guess what the item is before taking it out.
§ Describe characteristics about the item once they have pulled it out of the bag (e.g. colour, shape, use/function).
§ Answer questions about the item that they have pulled out (e.g. Is it round? Can you eat it?).
§ Guess the item that you have pulled out of the bag by asking you questions (e.g. Is it round? Can you eat it?).
· Books: Look at picture books with the child. Take turns in asking each other questions about the pictures (e.g. Who is in the picture? What is the girl/boy doing?). Try to think about what might happen next in the story and different possible endings.