How to improve your preschooler’s language and understanding

There are many ways you can address improving your little one’s use of language (what she says) and her understanding of language (this being a receptive language skill.)  The activity I describe below is good for children of all ages….and can be started with preschoolers…and even some toddlers…..if they have the expressive language to engage in this activity. 

I also love the activity below when working with Lauren (you can read more about her under the word finding page).  Lauren has been an inspiration to so many people….and I have been lucky enough to have worked with her over the past four years…..addressing her cognitive recovery.  When addressing cognitive recovery……it is important to engage the person in numerous language activities……you goal as the therapist is to help make new connections in the brain. 

The HINT GAME… described below is a favorite of Laurens……and now has become less challenging for her.  We see that it is less challenging for her as she continues to make new neural connections in her brain, stores more information and is able to recall more information.  Yeah Lauren!

The goals of the HINT GAME: improve vocabulary development, improve ability to categorize: people, places and objects, improve receptive language skills, improve ability to define words, improve expressive language,  and improve ability to understand attributes (describing words).

This activity can be played ANYWHERE……and here’s how it goes…..

Say to your little one that you are going to play the HINT GAME….and that she is going to be like the detective…..and that she has to guess what you are thinking of……when giving your little one the clues….I start off with three or four clues…more may be needed if she is unable to guess with just three or four.  The first describing word should always be the category the object belongs in…and the next two or three words are describing words.

So you may say something like this:

I am thinking of something…it is a fruit… is yellow… peel it and it grows on trees.

Hopefully your little one will guess BANANA.

I like to then go back and see if she can recall any of the attributes related to the banana…..she may need some help in the recall….and also see if she remembers the category that the banana belongs in.  This simple activity is very helpful for little ones once they are in school and need to define their vocabulary words.  Understanding that the category should come first…and then the describing words after.

To make this activity a little bit more challenging….see if your little one can give you the clues….and you have to guess what she is thinking of.   I find that the little ones at first really need some prompting.  You can have an older sibling, friend or another adult help your little one with giving you the describing words.  You may find….as I have seen….that when they first try to describe a word….it may sound something like this:

I am thinking of something that’s…ummmm…..yellow….ummmmm…’s a banana… you know what it is?   Funny… know information about the banana….but it may be challenging for them to actually use their words to describe the banana.

Hope this was helpful….and as I said if you know of someone who is presently in the cognitive recovery stages following a traumatic brain injury…this is a great strategy to help her with the process.


About Kim

My name is Kim Marino and I have been practicing as a licensed speech and language pathologist since 1993. I work on Long Island providing diagnostic evaluations and services to children from birth to age 21. My experience is vast and am proud to say that I work with children that may present with articulation and phonological concerns, oral motor feeding concerns, Down Syndrome feeding, cognitive rehabilitation, auditory processing delays, receptive language delays, cleft palate feeding and sound development and expressive language delays. Most importantly, I am the mother of four amazing children and am happily married to my childhood sweetheart. I feel blessed to have my four children and so lucky to share this journey in life with my husband. I always had it somewhere in my head that I wanted to develop a blog or a website of some sort so that I could provide families with an additional that parents could help their little ones become a better communicator. And as I was developing this blog....I realized that I also needed to share the stories about my life and my children....and the funny things along the way that help to keep me smiling. Whether you are a working mother or not...finding balance between home, children and life can be a challenge....I hope that my blog helps to bring a smile to your face..and also some tools to help you help your little or big one. I hope you enjoy! Kim
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