May is Better Speech and Hearing Month:
Did you know that May is “Better Speech and Hearing Month”? To celebrate this month, I want to share about a specific area of language development, answering who, what, where, and when questions or as speech therapists usually call them “wh questions”. Answering wh questions is an essential language skill that children should learn. Deficits in answering and asking wh questions have a serious impact on a child’s communication skills, performance in class, and the development of reading comprehension. Between 3 and 4 years, a child should start understanding and using questions about objects, people, and basic events. Between 4 and 5 years, a child should be able to pay attention to a short story and answer simple questions about them.
Here are a few tips that might be helpful if your child or student is having difficulties answering questions.
- Provide visual cues, such as photographs/pictures or objects to help them respond correctly
- Focus on one wh question at a time (i.e. only practice what questions or who questions)
- With some children it is best to start with what questions, next who, then where, and finally when and why. However, some what questions could be difficult for children to answer, such as ones that require the answer to be a verb. Example, “What is he/she doing?”. An easier what question would be “What is that?”. If you ask the question in different ways you might confuse your child. For example, what do you play with, what is that, what do you use to write, what is he doing. Asking your child a what question with the answer being a noun and the object is in front of the child would be much easier than asking a what question that requires the child to think about an answer and the object is not in their sight.
- Provide choices to generate answers if your child does not respond on the first attempt. For example, if you ask “What did you do in art today?” and your child does not respond, change the question to offer choices, “Did you paint or draw a picture?”.
- When reading books with pictures, ask your child questions about the pictures. For example, “Who is this?, What is she doing?”.
- Say a statement about a picture or experience like, “She plays with a stuffed animal. What do you play with?”
- Create visual supports to help your child understand what each type of question is asking. An example, you could write the word “where” and provide a picture of places or locations next to it. Do this for all the of the different wh questions.
How to Customize Questions2Learn:
I want to tell you about how you can use my app Questions2Learn to help children who have difficulty comprehending questions about stories. One feature of my app is customizing your own category of questions. So you could create questions about a trip your child goes on, visiting the zoo or about a favorite book. It allows you to create questions, insert images saved in your iPad’s photo library (personal or copies from the internet) or choose from the pre-programmed pictures. You record your personal voice when reading the questions.
The customization feature of Questions2Learn could help children who have difficulty comprehending questions about stories or about experiences. You could create questions about a trip your child goes on, visiting the zoo or about a favorite book. It allows you to create questions, insert images saved in your iPad’s photo library (personal or copies from the internet) or choose from the pre-programmed pictures. You record your personal voice when reading the questions. Check out a video of me explaining how to customize Questions2Learn by creating a category of questions about the story book app Gerry the Giraffe at www.speechpups.com/training.
About the Author:
Leanne Pool is a speech language pathologist with many years of experience working in schools. Currently she works in a school district and for a private practice. Throughout her experiences she has evaluated and provided therapy to children with a variety of disorders. Her passion is helping children who are non-verbal or who are low verbal use assistive technology to communicate functionally. She also uses the iPad with her students to help them learn skills and communicate. She is the owner of Speech Pups LLC, a company that designs speech and language apps for the iPad. Leanne designed and created Questions2Learn, an iPad app that helps individuals understand and answer who, what, where, and when questions (wh questions). One of the unique features of Questions2Learn is customizing the pre-programmed question’s picture choices and creating your own questions and categories using your personal images and voice recordings. The settings can be adjusted to meet your child’s individual needs by choosing which question type to work on and focusing on a specific category of questions (home, school, food/drink, etc.). It also has an option to use visuals to help your child or student understand how many questions he or she will answer. To help make life easy the app also collects data, which can be emailed or printed to track progress. Leanne is seeing a big improvement in her students’ language skills as they are motivated to work for longer periods of time and are gaining an understanding of answering wh questions. The children are positively reinforced by Leanne’s two “speech pups”, Moca and Dakota! You can read more about the full version of Questions2Learn at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/questions2learn/id537209705
and the lite version (Free) of Questions2Learn at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/questions2learn-lite/id537208661.
Please feel free to send me questions, feedback, and ideas at Leanne@speechpups.com or visit our FB page https://www.facebook.com/SpeechPupsLLC. We are hoping to do a big update to Questions2Learn in the near future focusing on the customization feature to make it more user friendly.
Photo courtesy of Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/clu_iss/5079790838/sizes/z/in/photostream/