Headstart for Life

Language and Thinking Skills for Children with Speech and Language Delay

From young, language and thinking skills play a very important role in our daily life experiences. We need to use language and think creatively and critically to solve problems, assess the consequences of our actions as well as predict the outcomes of our actions. How are these skills useful to our children? Well, we can ask very simple questions to our children relating to a problem in school or even at home. Questions that can be as simple as, “What happened today in school?”, will often elicit a blank look or a fuddled explanation of the events (as they recalled it) and often bits and pieces of information flying from nowhere.

Most children with speech and language difficulties lack the ability to answer questions and to look logically at everyday problems. Inadequate language and thinking skills also affects how they interact with their peers.

So, what then are the skills that we can teach our children to be efficient learners in language, problem solvers and effective communicators?

Some of the skills that are needed are the ability to visualise simple concepts and to understand the concepts behind the questions. The child needs sequencing activities to understand events.  It is best to use routines and stories that the child has prior knowledge about and has previously experienced. The basic story elements of introduction, setting, characters, episodes, outcome prediction, and problem-solution are needed for the child to be active thinkers and problem solvers. Children with speech and language difficulties need to use these skills consistently in their daily life.



There are several things that we can do to apply language and thinking skills into our children’s daily life activities.

For example, I can plan for an activity that I do almost every week. Grocery shopping!


It’s an excellent activity to involve our children and it doesn’t involve sitting at the table or working with worksheets!

Let’s have a plan.

  1.  Find out your children’s favourite food and food that they dislike. You can look through pictures or just open the fridge and let them point it out to you!
  2. Ask them to plan for a meal for the family in a week. Make a list. They can have fun checking through the items. This is a good way for them to start planning and thinking (For example: Do we have enough apples? milk? or favourite box of cereal?)
  3. When children are thinking about food, it is always a great time to talk about words (vocabulary) and the different categories of food. For example, categories of drinks, cooked food, meat or vegetables. Don’t stress yourself looking for pictures and cards! Go straight to the supermarket or better still, check it out on YOUTUBE!
  4. Your next step would be to get your child to follow simple instructions. We don’t want our children to be running around aimlessly. A great strategy would be to print out a list of items with a box for checking. Or if your child can’t read them print a visual list of items that’s needed. You can get the pictures easily enough from catalogues and newspapers or even download online.
  5. You can plan for a lesson right there at the supermarket. Don’t be shy about teaching stuff to your children in the supermarket. Everything is available and you can talk to them about where an item came from, how it’s grown etc. You can keep your language and explanation appropriate for your child’s level of ability.
  6. What if the item that you need is not on the list? Well, now we have a problem to solve and we need to find a solution! This is a good time to talk to your child about looking for the item elsewhere or asking the store person or “uncle/aunty” for more information. You have a ready made situation in which your child can practice his thinking and conversational skills.
  7. And finally, let’s do some talking about appropriate behaviour in the supermarket. Write a social story and discuss about it before going to the supermarket.

Finally have fun! If you find this post to be useful, please do write and tell me about it.

And to all our readers, we will be taking a blog break in December! Look for our new posts in Jan 2017! Wishing everyone a very happy holiday season and a great HeadStart for 2017!

"All the information on this site is for educational purposes only and does not replace the assessment and intervention of a registered speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist or any other medical or education professional."

About Zunaida

Zunaida likes to browse through websites looking for more background information on her favourite topics such as speech difficulties and pragmatic skills disorders. She has more than 10 years of experience working with children with special needs in Singapore.

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