Did you know that by increasing the number of conversations you have with your child, you are also increasing their language skills? It’s true! If you’re wondering how to improve pragmatic language skills, these conversation starters for kids are a good place to start! Conversations are a great way to target pragmatic language skills. More commonly known as social skills or social language skills, pragmatic language skills are the skills we use when communicating with one another within a social situation. And by having more daily conversations with your child you are helping them practice this important part of language.
Here are 25 conversation starters for kids you can easily include in daily activities and examples of simple questions to use to improve pragmatic language skills. Have fun!
Asking about something your child likes is an easy way to peak their interest and practice having a conversation. It is also a great way to introduce follow up questions such as who, what, where, when and why to keep the convo going!
Having a conversation about what your child did in a day is a great way to practice conversational skills consistently. It also introduces conversations into their daily routine and helps them practice other language skills such as recalling and retelling information.
Most children are excited by special occasions and yearly events such as their birthday, Halloween, or Thanksgiving. Because of this, they can become highly motivated and participate more when talking about this topic.
Although a little more complex, talking about hypothetical situations is a great way to get kids thinking outside the box. Coming up with silly questions can also motivate kids to continue the conversation and get creative with their questions and answers.
Asking about the past, present, and future is a great topic to talk about! Most parents know their children’s schedule ahead of time and/or are typically participating in the activity with their kids, which helps keep the questions and answers accurate. Past, present, and future conversations also allows for parents to model grammar concepts (present tense, past tense) and encourage kids to use it in their sentences.
When introducing structured conversations to your kids, make sure to provide them with support. Support can be in a form of a verbal cue or prompt, a visual cue, or a direct verbal model. Examples of support during conversations are:
Telling your child that you are also interested in the topic (If talking about their favorite color you can say, “I have a favorite color, too,” after they have answered and waiting for them to ask).
Pointing out something they seem interested in and prompting them to talk about it (“I see you looking at your friend’s toy, maybe you can find out where he got it.” or “Oh do you see your friend is eating mac and cheese? Let’s go tell them that you like that, too!”)
Pointing from them to yourself or to whoever they are talking to in order to give them a hint that they should ask the other person (Point to the child and pair with a verbal cue “So I know what you think,” then point to yourself or whoever they are talking to and say, “maybe you can find out what I/they think.”)
Providing a direct verbal model of a question or answer (“Find out what my favorite color is by saying, ‘What is your favorite color?’” “If you think that show is funny, you can make a comment and say, ‘I think that’s funny.’”)
Conversations are a great way to improve pragmatic language skills. Incorporating conversations in your child’s daily routine is a great way to help them practice. When you introduce structured conversations into their day, you are helping them consistently practice their social skills. Keep in mind that showing them appropriate social skills is just as important as practicing it with them! So, it doesn’t hurt to be extra mindful of how you reciprocate questions, take turns when talking, and stay on topic when having a conversation with the other members of the family!
Amanda is a Speech Language Pathology Assistant at NAPA Center, with more than 5 years of experience working in the communicative disorders field. As a bilingual therapist, she is motivated and determined to encourage communication in any way shape or form. She enjoys eating spicy foods, binge watching shows on Netflix, and eating mochi donuts with her husband, her cat, Hendrix, and her dog, Lebowski.
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