Speech Pathology News: Comprehension

What is Comprehension?
Comprehension refers to your child’s ability to understand language. Important comprehension skills include following directions, understanding questions, understanding grammar and understanding the meaning of words (i.e. vocabulary).

Why is it important?
Comprehension skills are important in the classroom for following instructions and academic success. Children first need to understand what is being said, before they can learn and communicate that information. Children also use comprehension skills in social situations with family and friends in order to follow and participate in conversation.

Following Directions
Follow directions is your child’s ability to understand and carry out a direction. In order to do this your child must know directional words (e.g. on, in, after, before), understand the meaning of all the words in the instruction and have adequate short term memory to listen to, comprehend and remember the instructions long enough to complete them.

Directional Words
Spatial Directions – words that tell the child where something needs to go e.g. on, in, under, above, over.
Temporal Directions – words that tell the child when to do something e.g. before, after
Quantitative Directions – words that tell the child how much of something they need e.g. a few, pick one

Activities to practice following directions
Simon Says: Take turns with your child to give and follow instructions.  Gradually move from one stage directions (e.g. touch your nose) to two stage directions (e.g. touch your nose then clap your hands), to three stage directions (e.g. touch your nose then clap your hands then turn around).

Obstacle course/Play ground: Put together an obstacle course at home or go to the playground. Take turns giving and following instructions with your child. Gradually move from one stage direction to three stage directions

How to help your child
If your child is finding these activities difficult, have them repeat the instructions back to you to help them remember what they are going to do.  You can also use some gestures to help your child understand the directions or act them out as you tell them.

How to make it harder
If your child is finding these easy, introduce directional words.

Rachael Bongiascia
Senior Speech Pathologist