If your child is older and needs work on vocabulary, you can do more “formal” teaching activities. Your child’s teacher or speech language pathologist have probably given you a vocabulary list appropriate to your child’s level, or you can choose words from reading material that can be part of that list.
Before you decide which words to emphasize, you need to know whether or not your child understands or uses certain words. To see if your child knows a word, have the child:
1. Match similar but slightly different pictures of objects representing that word.
2. Pick out more than one picture representing the word from a choice of at least four pictures.
3. Name a picture, object, or experience using the word.
4. Tell you the word if you say its meaning or use. For example, “What do we dig holes with?”
5. Define the word using at least two statements that demonstrate knowledge of the word.
6. Sort pictures of things into different categories, or say what category a word belongs in, e.g. an apple is a kind of fruit; a shirt is a piece of clothing.
7. Tell how the object named is like something similar and how it is different. How are an apple and a tomato alike? How are they different?
8. Use the word appropriately in sentences and in conversation.
Select a few words and “test” your child on the above tasks. Write down the words your child had trouble with and what kind of task gave the child difficulty. Develop a list of words to teach according to the task. Try easier tasks first; the tasks are listed in order of difficulty. If your child is under five years of age, tasks five through eight might be too difficult.
If you want to be sure your child is learning new words, keep a record of words you are working on. Record when you started working on a word, what tasks have been accomplished, when the child understood the word, and when the child started to use a word. Share this information with your child’s speech language pathologist.
Reference: “Communication Skill Builders”, Leslie S. McColgin, 1988.
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