Written by SENsational Tutors Ltd.
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Three tips for developing better communication skills with your child with SEN
It’s 3.30pm. Pick up time from school. How familiar does the following conversation sound to you? You: “How was school”?
Reply from your child with SEN: “It was good”.
We all want to know that our nearest and dearest ones had a good day, and, of course, we are pleased when they mention that nothing hurtful has happened to them.
But as parents, we are always keen to know just a little more about what they have been up during their time away from us.
If this conversation pattern happens often in your family, you may feel at a loss as to how to break out of it to create more meaningful and open conversations with your child with SEN.
You’ll also know that developing academic skills and understanding is important for your child to build his or her confidence and self-esteem – but just as key for a child with high-functioning autism (Asperger’s), ADHD, dyslexia, autism or any other type of SEN, is to keep a focus on learning to communicate.
Here are top three tips to help develop conversational skills with your child with SEN.
TIP 1: Be specific
A school day is very long time for a child to deal with. Instead of asking how their day was, try focussing on one aspect of it.
Usually children remember lunchtimes or events with friends, so try to ask questions such as, “Who did you play with?”, “What games did you play?” or “What did you have for lunch today?”.
The question you choose to ask based on these specific parts of their day can also spark off conversations about related subjects – for example organising playdates if you’re talking about games with friends (which are great for developing social skills) or if you’re talking about lunch, the importance of healthy food (to ensure that your child also understands what can keep them energised, fit and healthy).
TIP 2 : Use modelling
We shouldn’t expect children to be able to communicate perfectly without our guidance.
While they might be able to say words and subconsciously understand what it means to do the turn-taking that’s needed to have a conversation with someone (think of turn-taking as a game of tennis – one person speaks – the other person speaks etc.), many children need further support to put these thoughts into practice.
That’s where modelling can make a difference. Through watching and listening to you, your child learns what to do and how to do it. You can prompt your child with appropriate phrases to help them understand how to communicate with you, for example, “Thanks Mum” in response to a comment you’ve made.
TIP 3: Give them an indication of time
If you know that your child had a specialist lesson at school, such as P.E., ask what they did in the lesson that day to encourage them to talk about their experience and feelings.
This technique also supports your child’s understanding of order and sequencing which is a skill that he or she will start to develop from reception age upwards.
For resources and to develop further understanding about order and sequencing, check out the following links:
These tips are simple ones that any parent can try to better understand their child’s thoughts and feelings and can be used regularly to track progress in your child’s ability to communicate verbally.
Still need some extra professional help to boost your child’s language and communication skills?
Our experienced and specialist SEN tutors are here to help you, at a time that works for you.
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