Q: My 4 year old daughter has a language delay. She only use two word sentences and can not retell what happened during the day. If I ask her a question she almost always says “I don’t know” even when I know that she does know. What can I do to help her?

A: It sounds like your child has words in her vocabulary that does not come out when she wants them to. In everyday conversation, high demands are placed on us being able to quickly tell things and answer questions. But if a child finds it difficult to find the words or needs more time, it is easy for the child to answer “I don’t know” to give them more time to think before answering. Therefore, be careful not to rush answers. Try to take moment each day when you and the child can talk about something peacefully without being interrupted. Let the conversation take time. Avoid asking too many questions. Rather start the conversation by telling something about your day and see what response you get. If the child’s sentences are incorrectly, use passive correction, that is, as an adult you repeat what the child said but correctly (eg “yes exactly, you mean …”). Avoid pointing out that the child is talking incorrectly or actively correcting the child. Try to summarize what the child is telling you so she can tell you if you have misunderstood something.

There are also some concrete things you can do to improve the ability to retell:

  • When you read a book that the child knows well, try to omit information and let the child fill in. You can also try to act stupid and tell the story completely wrong toMaybe then try to tell them or show what went wrong.
  • It is often easier to retell with image support. Take photos at what you do during a day and then in the evening you can look at the pictures and talk about what you did, what happened and different emotions that emerged.
  • There are some board games where you practice storytelling, such as Alias, which involves taking turns describing something and letting the other guess what it is (eg this is an animal, who has four legs and says voff). You can find the game here https://www.amazon.com/Tactic-Games-US-53132-Junior/dp/B00WTX0Y7U . This can also be done by putting toys or memory pictures of things in a bag and taking turns to tell and guess what toy / picture the other has.
  • Play “Odd one out”” in our app Voca play. Talk about which ones belong together and why. Also talk about the fact that things can belong together in different ways, either that they belong to the same category (such as cats and dogs are animals, pears and apple are fruits) or that they look the same, for example, have the same color or shape. Use the pictures from our website try to sort the pictures. You can also talk about which one to remove and why it should be removed.

Good luck and do not forget to sign up for my educational e-mail series!