Asking Questions

Why is my child having trouble with asking questions?

When looking at our child’s skills, we will commonly be puzzled to why they are having so much trouble completing a task that we take for granted. The role of a speech pathologist is to break down the smaller steps that are required for your child to be successful in completing a skill such as asking questions.

Asking questions can be a complicated task which requires a number of smaller skills to be developed first. These skills include (but are not limited to):

  • Having adequate vocabulary
  • Having grammar skills
  • Taking turns in conversation
  • Being aware of social rules and expected behaviours

Is there anything I can do at home to support?

Language and Vocabulary – You can build questioning language by asking and practicing questions together with a variety of question words (who, what, where, when, why, how). You can make questions together to ask family members about their day or to ask each other questions about a book or movie.

Taking Turns in Conversation - Remind your child everyone wants to share information and have a turn in conversation. Give them positive reinforcement for giving other people a turn, for example “That was great listening, I bet your Grandma will be excited to hear about your day next”.

Social Rules and Expected Behaviours – Model expected behaviours to your child during conversation by asking questions, making comments, giving eye contact and taking turns. Remind them these things show people that we are listening and this makes them enjoy talking to us.

How can a speech pathologist support these skills?

It is common that families and teachers will identify concerns with specific skills such as asking questions. Speech pathologists are trained to analyse your child’s current skills and difficulties to identify smaller goals your child will need to achieve as stepping stones towards achieving a larger goal, such as asking questions. As every child is different, the skills that one child needs support in, is likely to be different to another child. Hence a thorough assessment is always the place to start. Supports for working towards asking questions may include, but are not limited to:

  • Expanding your child’s use and understanding of questioning language
  • Building their ability to form grammatically correct and meaningful questions
  • Supporting them to take turns in conversation
  • Increasing their awareness of social rules and expected behaviours in conversation, such as the importance of reciprocating questions
  • Building their theory of mind so they are able to consider that others may have more to share if they are asked
  • Asking follow up questions to show others you are listening
  • Supporting parents to develop their child’s skills at home, at school and in the community

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