Back to School Series: Helping Children Answer the Question "What did you do at school today?"
Updated: Feb 19, 2021
As your child heads back to school, you may be looking for some strategies to support your child in sharing about his or her day. Talking with your child about school can be a wonderful opportunity to build communication skills, but it can be particularly difficult for children with language comprehension and expression difficulties. Here are some tips for helping your child develop the skills to successfully discuss their school day.
Make it Visual: Print out visuals to represent your child’s different classes throughout the day (e.g., circle time, art, lunch, math). It may be worth reaching out to your child’s teacher to see if there are visual schedules used in the classroom that can be shared for home practice. Use these visuals to discuss classes one at a time to reduce the demand on your child.
Model First/Then/Last Language: Using visuals, you can model “First you went to homeroom, then you had art class, last you had gym class ” to aid your child in formulating a simple narrative about her day.
Ask specific WH- questions: For many children, “what did you do today?” can be a very difficult question to answer. As your child continues to develop his or her communication skills, try to make your questions more specific (e.g., What did you make in art? What did you eat for lunch? Who did you play with during recess?).
Model Expanded Expressions: A good rule of thumb is to use the +1 technique. If your child answers your question with one word, model a two word response. For example, if your child says “color,” you can model “color pictures!”
Recast: If your child has difficulty organizing his/her language (think super long run-on sentences!), try recasting her statement using appropriate pausing and transition words. For example, “Thanks for telling me about recess! First you played on the playground, and then you played tag with Joe and Sally. That sounds like a lot of fun!”
Program Devices with School Vocabulary: If your child uses an AAC device, ask your school SLP to program in your child’s classes, teachers, and classmates. Then, your child can use those pre-programmed names and activities to share about his/her school day.