How to help your child organize their thoughts to drive answers other than “I dunno”.

19 Aug 2014

BY: trini

Inspiration / School / Speech Therapy

How to help your child organize their thoughts to drive answers other than “I dunno”

by Trini Myers-Murphy, MS CCC-SLP;COM

How many times have you asked your child, “What did you learn today honey”?  Just to be followed by a “7-mile-stare”, with a less than enthusiastic “I DUNNO” shoulder shrug.

Never-fear you go-getter-parent, there are answers

***  Small disclaimer here:  This blog is written assuming that your child isn’t developmentally delayed in speech/ language.  Sometimes there are more in-depth reasons as to why your child might be having a hard time communicating.  If you suspect that “something isn’t right”, it doesn’t hurt to have a formal speech/language evaluation done. The answers are usually multi-factoral, and sometimes it helps just to a base-line  peace of mind, or a professional sounding board to see if there’s just a different way that we can structure our language so that we can go beyond the shoulder shrugs and 7-mile stares.

 

Having said that…

The first thing I want to do is to see how well they can sequence events.  You can pick up a fairly cheap set of sequencing cards at any education store, and many free sequencing cards online.  One of my favorite resources for free-speech/language-materials is on speakingofspeech.com, under the materials exchange tab.

If your child doesn’t understand this concept of “time” in terms of sequencing, then we have to remember that asking them questions such as “what did you do today”…. Well, that’s a pretty loaded question!!  Where do you begin??!?

Children’s days are usually packed full of fun activities, from reading to recess, art projects to becoming the world’s youngest/greatest paleontologists- I know I was an awesome paleontologist in my yester-year.

 

Asking the right questions.

Be specific, about a person, about a topic, about a book, about a place.  Visit your child’s classroom, and talk to his/her teacher to get to know what actually happens in your child’s day.  Sometimes, a communication journal with your child’s teacher is a great way to keep up with the daily grind.  These days, it’s also very common to check out your child’s day by looking at the classroom website or newsletter that your child’s teacher organizes.

By asking direct questions, it helps children to organize and to elaborate their own thoughts.  This helps all of our little ones become more independent and less dependant on us for the answers.  Here are some quick suggestions as it relates to your child’s school day to get those “I Dunno’s” on the back burner (for the most part).

“What did you eat for lunch today?”

“Who did you play with a recess today?”

“What did your teacher read to you today?”

“ Who was the line leader today”?

 

Why is it important to communicate with our children?

There are many things that we can learn from our children when we talk to our children; their insights, their perspectives, how they think just to name a few.  The lessons we both learn (both the child and the parent) are invaluable.  The time we spend with our children is equally if not more important.

 

A communication activity – Jar Jam: A list of questions to spread aroundjam_IMG_0519_

Every year, I give away a gift to my students parents that start the conversations at home.

Simply print out the questions on red or blue paper, and cut the questions into strips.  Put the strips into a mason jar and cover with a cute gingham fabric… just so that it looks like a jam jar— “jam packed” full of questions to give you and your family some direct and creative questions.

  • What are some things you can do for _________ that would make them feel good?
  •  What is responsibility? Do you want it?
  •  Are you a better talker or listener?
  •  What is patience? How can you improve yours?
  •  What would make Dad a better Dad?
  •  Just because you can’t do something well, does that mean you shouldn’t try or should quit?
  •  Why do bad things happen to good people?
  •  Do you like to look at pictures of yourself? Why?
  •  What is patience? How can you improve yours?
  •  What are the best things about being a kid?
  •  What thoughts and feelings do you have when you see someone who is handicapped?
  •  What food combination do you eat that grosses your family out?
  •  What is your favorite thing to do in the summer? In the winter?
  •  If you lost the sense of touch, what would you most miss touching/feeling?
  •  What is your favorite time of day?
  •  How would life be different without a TV?
  •  What new talents/hobbies are you interested in?
  •  What is your favorite memory with ________?
  •  Why do people want to have children?
  •  What do you look for in a friend?
  •  What is the best thing about Dad?
  •  What is a miracle? Have you seen or experienced one?
  •  Why should our family eat dinner together?
  •  How would life be different without a car?
  •  What do you do or say that drives your family crazy?  What do each of them do or say that drives you crazy?
  •  What is your favorite kind of musician?
  •  What will you look like 10 years from now?
  •  What are you most thankful for this year?
  •  What can you do or say if another person is treating you badly?
  •  Have you ever felt sorry for another child?
  •  Why and what did you do about it?
  •  Do your parents know how to have fun? If not how could you show them?
  •  Who are your heroes? Why?
  •  If you lost your sense of taste, what would you miss the taste of?
  •  Why is exercise important
  •  If you could be invisible, what would you do?
  •  When you have a problem, whom can you go to?
  •  What is the happiest color? Explain/
  •  How would life be different if you had a twin?
  •  In what ways are you like Mom? Dad?
  •  Are you eager to try new things? Explain.
  •  What does it mean to be trustworthy?
  •  What does it mean to be honest? Why is it important? Are you always honest?
  •  Have you ever promised to keep a secret and then shred it? What happened? Is there ever a time when you definitely should not keep a secret?
  •  If someone told you not to tell your parents something, should you? What should you do?
  •  Why is it important to “just say no to drugs”?
  •  Why is it important to take care of our bodies?
  •  Do you like dogs or cats better? Why?
  •  What is the best thing about Mom?
  •  Do you think you are lucky or unlucky? For instance?
  •  When you want to make Mom/Dad smile, what do you do?
  •  If something happened to your parents and you had to live with someone else, whom would you want to live with?
  •  What do you forget most often?
  •  Do you fell you deserve to be loved? If not, why not?
  •  When is a person considered old?
  •  Are you respectful to your parents? Are they respectful to you?
  •  What is your favorite thing to do with Mom or Dad? What is your favorite thing to do with your son or daughter?
  •  Why is it good that people are different?
  •  How did your parents choose your name? Do you like it?
  •  Are you family rules stricter than those of your friends?
  •  Who is the kindest person you know?
  •  What is the saddest color? Explain.
  •  Is your house a fun place? How would you make it better?
  •  What is your special talent?
  •  Why is exercise important?
  •  If you could be invisible, what would you do?
  •  When you have a problem, whom can you go to?
  •  What is the happiest color?  Explain.
  •  How would life be different if you had a twin?
  •  In what ways are you like Mom? Dad?
  •  Are you eager to try new things? Explain.
  •  What does it mean to be trustworthy?
  •  What does it mean to be honest? Why is it important? Are you always honest?
  •  Are you respectful to your parents? Are they respectful to you?
  •  What is your favorite thing to do with Mom or Dad?  What is your favorite thing to do with your son or daughter?
  •  Why is it good that people are different?
  •  How did your parents choose your name? Do you like it?
  •  What are the best things about being a kid?
  •  What thoughts and feelings do you have when you see someone who is handicapped?
  •  What food combination do you eat the grosses your family out?
  •  What is your favorite thing to do in the summer? In the winter?
  •  If you lost the sense of touch, what would you most miss touching/feeling?
  •  What is your favorite time of day?
  •  How would life be different without a TV?
  •  What new talents/hobbies are you interested in?