Interacting with your child

In primary school he will be expected to listen to advice, information and instructions and should have a foundation for this from his pre-school and home experiences. Practising these skills at home so that he is able to understand what is required, and take any action necessary, is helpful to his progress at school.

Asking your child to do something

When you have to ask your child to do something, attract his attention and ensure he is concentrating. Look at him and break down into sections the actions you want him to carry out. This is called 'chunking' your talking. Pause between the 'chunks', always addressing the child by his name, looking in his direction so that he is encouraged to look at you. In general it is always best to expect your child to look at you when talking, so that you do not speak until you have his complete attention This might mean saying something like this,

'John, please stop playing with your Wii now.' (Pause for 30 seconds at least) Then comment supportively, 'That's a good boy.'

Follow up with another simple instruction.

'Put it all away now please, John.' (Pause while he does that, offering ideas on how to do that if he is having difficulties, then complimenting him when it is completed)

'Please come here now John, so we can talk about what we do next.'

As he gets older, it is still a good idea to follow the basic principles of this approach, modifying your language as necessary to suit his age.

If you always use this method when you give instructions to your child, you will be giving him time to concentrate on what he is doing. This capacity to concentrate is a very useful skill. Also, focussing on a task lowers the demands on his thinking, as he is clear about what he has to do. If he wants to reply in any way, as the demands on him are lowered, he will be more likely to be able to calmly reply and may be more fluent when he does so. It might also help with having your instructions carried out without the 'playing-up' that can occur at critical periods such as bed-times.

Questions and Answers

It may help to pause for one second before you answer him or ask a question. This slow, less hurried way of speaking gives your child time before answering.

Ask questions that require a yes or no answer if he is stammering severely.

Go on to more open questions if he seems ready to talk, not questions with simple yes or no answers. More open questions will help him to develop his vocabulary. ' What do you think Dad would like to do on his birthday?'

If you are busy doing something when he asks a question and cannot stop, tell your child that, although you are busy, you are still listening, or explain why you cannot stop, but will give him your full attention later.


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