Language refers to the words we use and how we use them to share ideas and get what we want.
Language includes: 

  • What words mean. Some words have more than one meaning. For example, “watch” can be something we wear on our wrist or something we do with our eyes. 
  • How to make new words. For example, we can say “care,” “careful,” or “uncaring” and mean something different. 
  • How to put words together. For example, in English we say, “Mark walked to the new school” instead of “Mark walk school new.” 
  • What we should say at different times. For example, we might be polite and say, “Would you mind moving over?” But, if the person does not move, we may say, “Get over there!” 

Receptive Communication activities you can do at home:

  • Have your child follow directions of any type (ex: one step, two steps, before, after, first, then, next, last) or have your child give directions for you to follow.  Consider providing your child with a visual picture to model/guide each step. 
  • Give your child silly directions to follow that involve everyday objects in the home such as, “Go get a sock, take it to the living room and throw it in the air.” “Show me where the baby sleeps then jump up and down.” 
  • Give your child directions that include adjectives, attributes or categories such as, “Find something in the house that is round, red, small, etc,”  “Go get something in your room that is soft,” “Take all your shoes and put them in the bathtub.” 
  • Help your child learn to use prepositions with a shoebox and a variety of small toys.  Give your child directions such as, “Get the ball and put it under the box,” “Put the car on the box,”  “Take the string and put it in the box.” 
  • Line up the objects on top of the box, “Put the blue car in front of the red car,” “Point to the car that is first in the line.” 
  • Use a Bingo board with real objects and have your child find objects that are above/below, next to, in between, on the top, on the bottom row.
  • Read a story or listen to a story with your child and point to pictures while you read to show characters, actions, setting. 

Expressive Communication activities you can do at home:

  • Have your child find something in the house and bring it over to you without letting you see it.  Have your child describe the hidden object by providing clues to describe the object’s category (is it a toy, a clothing item), the function/action of the object, appearance (size, shape, color), parts, location information, etc. 
  • Find two items in your home that are similar (a toy car, a wagon, ball, frisbee).  Talk with your child about each item, talk about how the items are the same/different. 
  • Play “I Spy” and name a category of items to encourage your child to find something in the room by providing clues by category (I spy something red, something small, something flat) Take turns providing clues to identify objects in the room.
  • Read a picture book and talk about the pictures in the story.  Ask your child questions about the pictures. As you ask questions such as, “where,” point to the location in the picture.  Ask your child questions such as “where are they,” “what are they doing?” or “who is going to the park?” 
  • Find a picture from a recent activity with the family.  Ask your child to give you details about the event. Encourage your child to tell about the event using story order words such as First, Next, Then, Last. 
  • Find a story with beautiful fantasy pictures.  Have your child create a story about the picture with new characters, telling about the setting, problem, solution and use dialogue for the characters in the story. 
  • Play a game of building blocks or play with your child’s favorite toy.  Talk to your child about what you are making, narrate what you are doing or pretend to have they toys talk to each other.  Encourage your child to play along. 
  • As you play, encourage your child to give more detail and expand sentences.  When your child says, “him can fly.” Respond by modeling for your child, “Yes, he can fly high in the sky.”  When your child says, “uh oh, fall down.” Model for your child, “The blocks fell down. Do you think we can fix it?”

Social Language: 

Children may say words clearly and use long, complex sentences with correct grammar, but still have difficulty with communication - if he or she has not mastered the rules for social language known as pragmatics.  Pragmatics involve three major communication skills: 

Using language for different purposes 

  • greeting (e.g., hello, goodbye) 
  • informing (e.g., I'm going to get a snack) 
  • demanding (e.g., Give me a cookie) 
  • promising (e.g., I'm going to get you a cracker)
  • requesting (e.g., I would like a drink, please) 

Changing language according to the needs of a listener or situation

  • talking differently to a friend than to a parent 
  • giving background information to an unfamiliar communication partner 
  • speaking differently on that playground than at home 

Following rules for conversations and storytelling 


  • introducing topics of conversation 
  • staying on topic 
  • taking turns in conversation 
  • rephrasing when misunderstood 
  • how to use verbal and nonverbal signals 
  • how close to stand to someone when speaking 
  • how to use facial expressions and eye contact 

These rules may vary across cultures and within cultures. 


Social Language (Pragmatics) activities you can do at home: 


  • Choose any game you may have in your house,
    especially card games.  Children can play card games such as
    “Go Fish,” and ask each other questions such as, “Do you have
    the Queen of Hearts.” And if the other play has the card, they
    must give it to the person asking for it, if not, the player needs
    to “Go Fish.” 
  • Use a set of conversational topic cards or other conversation starter
    games/activities and ask your child to respond to questions and tell
    about given topics. 
  •  Find a story you have read together with your child. Read the
    story again and talk about what you would do, ask your child
    what they might say if they were that character in the story. 
    Make connections to the story and ask your child, “do you
    remember when you went to the park?” or talk about how the
    character in the story feels in the story, “she seems sad because
    she lost her toy, how would you feel?” 


  • Play a game of “Who am I?” and take turns giving clues about different
    family members in the house and see if your child can guess, “Who am
    I?” or give clues to let you guess which family member is being described. 

How to Help Your Child Understand and Produce “WH” Questions:

  • While reading simple story books with illustrations or pictures, ask your child questions like, “Who is this? What is he/she doing? Where is the child going? When will he/she come back? Why is he/she leaving?” Practice these types of questions, as well as saying “The girl went to the store. Where did you go today? She is tying her shoes. What do you do when you put on your shoes? She came home from the store after lunch. When did you get home from school today?”
  • Make small books. Have your child illustrate a book with photos or drawings with a title like “Our Family Vacation.” Your child can answer each of the WH questions that you may dictate. For example, “Who went on vacation? Where did you go? When did you leave/return? What did you do on your vacation? Why did the family go on vacation?” Make books about the child’s birthday, holidays, family time, shopping trips, etc.
  • Cut pictures from magazines/books. Make a WH chart with each type of WH question in a separate column. Show your child a picture and ask him/her to place the picture in the correct column. For example, you show the child a picture of a man- he/she puts the picture in the Who column. An apple- he/she places in the What column; a picture of a park-he/she places in the Where column.
  • Improve your child’s reading comprehension by asking WH questions during and after story time.
  • Interrupt stories and ask a series of questions related to the story topic. Ask your child to create questions about the story with Who, What, When, Where or Why as the first word of his/her question. Children learn from these prompts and will begin using these comprehension strategies while reading on their own.
  • Use picture cards made from clippings of magazines or old books. Show your child a card and say, “Ask me a question about this picture.” If you are showing your child “shoes,” he/she may ask, “What do you wear on your feet? Why did you get new shoes? When do you buy shoes”

WH Questions websites/links: 

The Following video is a link to help teach the difference between “where” “when” “who” “why” and “what” questions. This might be a fun way to help your child learn the correct way to answer these questions. As you go through picture books you can also ask these “wh” questions to your child. You may need to model the correct answer at first or remind them what kind of answer goes with which question (ie “remember a who is going to be a person or a character”). It might be helpful to create a visual support to help them remember. You can also ask your child questions about their day using these questions with the visual supports (ie “what did you have for breakfast?” “who did you facetime?” “when do we brush our teeth?” etc.).

Other Helpful Websites and Links: 


The following link is to a YouTube song to help teach kids about prepositions. It might be a fun way to help your child remember the difference between “in” “on” and “under.” You can also find props (such as an action figure and a shoe box) to have your child follow along with placing the item “in” “on” and “under” while watching the video. You can also look through picture books, magazines, or use toys while playing to talk about where the toy/character is (ie “in” “on” or “under”).


The following link is to a YouTube song to help teach kids about pronouns. It might be a fun way to help your child remember the difference between “he” “she” “it” and “they.” You can then use books and movies and have your child point out and describe various characters using the correct pronouns. It may be helpful to create a visual (draw a picture with the correct pronoun next to each) for your child to use as a support. You may also want to model using the correct pronouns at first when reading a book and then go back over the picture book and have them try to label each character using the correct pronoun.

Regular and Irregular Past tense Verbs:

If your child is struggling with using the correct verb tense when talking about something that already happened (ie: they might say “I dancing yesterday.”), then these videos might be helpful. After watching these videos you can practice by playing Simon says, take turns being Simon and have your child do a variety of actions and then take turns asking each other what you did. (ie “Simon says Jump up and down! What did you just do? You jumped”). It may help to model the correct verb tense at first.  

Regular past tense verbs song:

Irregular past tense verbs song: