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Beginning to understand language by using non-verbal clues/cues

21 September 2021

Why is this important?

Children need and use any kind of cue to help understand what is happening and what is going to happen. Providing these contextual clues alongside verbal language helps establish the meaning of the words.

What to do

  • Use words and sentences which directly link to what is going to happen next, e.g.
    • Say ‘Let’s go for a walk’ whilst holding shoes and coat.
    • Tell your child ‘It’s dinnertime’ whilst fetching bib, dinner and spoon.
    • Show your child a towel and favourite bath toy and say ‘Bath-time now’ .
  • These actions help your child link objects and words to what is going to happen. Your child may understand situations even though he/she may not understand the words on his/her own.
  • Try pointing to or looking at a familiar object (e.g. cup) and ask ‘Where’s the cup?’
    • If your child looks to the cup, give plenty of praise and hand over the cup, repeating the word ‘cup’.
    • If your child doesn’t look to the cup, help by picking it up, naming it and asking again ‘Where’s the cup?’

Step up

  • Reduce the number of extra clues and support.

Step down

  • Use the phrase at the same time as the actions.
  • Have several attempts.
  • Use gestures and/or signs alongside the word/s.