Is your 4 year old starting to answer simple questions like, “what are hats for?” or “what are you doing?”? That’s wonderful news! This is a milestone for your child’s developing communication skills.
Communication skills are more than just the ability to talk, they are an important part of your child’s language development. Speaking (whether it's verbally, by sign, or other methodology) demonstrates their cognitive and fine motor skill development. Processing questions they are asked, being able to think about their answers, and being able to express their answers coherently is an important milestone for your child’s communication skills.
Simple Ways to Use Questions to Nurture Communication Skills
- Ask them easy “yes or no” questions that you know they can answer correctly. For example, you can ask “do you like corn?” or “are you wearing your jacket?”. This helps them learn how to answer questions without the risk of being embarrassed or frustrated if they don’t know they answer. Having these positive experiences as a foundation can boost their confidence as questions become more open-ended.
- Ask simple, open-ended, questions like, “what is a coat for?” (to keep you warm) or “what is a crayon for?” (to draw). Start with questions they are likely to know the answers to. Be sure to provide them with lots of praise for their correct answers, how much they know, and how well they express themselves. This will help to bolster their confidence for when questions become more complex as they grow.
- Praise what they did right, even if they get an answer wrong. This can help them learn to accept assistance. For example, if you ask them, “what is a coat for?” and they answer, “yellow?”, you could respond with, “no, a coat is for staying warm, but I see that you know that your coat is yellow! Very good! What color is my coat?” “Blue?” “Yes, it’s blue, very good!”.