Teaching the 5-W-H questions: Part 1

By Christine Marchant

Teaching the 5-W-H questions (who, what where why and how) is different for each child. At least, that’s what I thought, until one day I realized that I’ve been teaching it for several years.  I discovered that the verbal level of the child does not matter.  I have a child who is not much higher than “non verbal.”  She is very intelligent, but is unable to express herself.  Without realizing it, I actually taught her the 5-W-H questions.  I sat down and started to write down the formula I used.  I then tried it on my preschool boy, and he got it!  I then tried it on my other preschool boy and he got it!  I was amazed!  I wrote out the formula step by step, and next week, I will try it on my older boy.

I’m not a speech pathologist, but I do have decades of experience raising children, and 5 years experience as a child development facilitator.  I am on many full service teams.  I am only sharing my experience working with many therapists and children.  This is the formula that works for me.

The 5-W-H questions can be very difficult to teach because they are abstract and can be a challenge for children and their support aides.  I started with the most concrete and easy W question, and then worked up to the most abstract and difficult questions, which are WHY and HOW.  Children will move through these steps at different speeds.  The amount of time isn’t the goal.  The goal is to have the child concretely understand the question and why and when to use it.  Stay with the formula and repeat as often as needed.  If the child ‘loses their grasp’ of the knowledge, just drop back one step, do a quick review, and when it’s concrete again move to the next step.  Don’t change the order or the formula.   Just go forward and backwards.

My girl took 3 years, my preschool boys took weeks, and my older boy will most likely have it mastered in a few sessions.  Go slow and stay faithful to the formula.  Do not move to the next level until the previous levels are set, concrete, and consistent.  Once the child knows the formula, you don’t need the visual.  I use the visual for my girl because she’s still almost non verbal and LOVES to print her thoughts.  The visual helps her remember where each answer belongs.  Once the child is consistently responding correctly to each question, you can mix them up and be creative.

On a sheet of paper, create 6 columns and in each column, print the 5-W-H questions allow enough space to print at least 4-5 words.

___________________________________________________________________

WHO                       WHAT                WHERE                     WHEN                 WHY                  HOW

___________________________________________________________________

I like to use a set of 24 photos.  Use 6 at a time- 3 turns each.  I keep it to 10 to 15 minutes per activity.

I repeat the activity twice.  Then put it away, I do this twice a session.  It’s more effective to teach shorter lengths of time more often than longer times, less often.

Leave the columns blank and laminate the sheet.

Level 1

  • Only ask WHO and leave the rest of the columns blank
  • WHO is riding the bike?
  • Do this for each photo, the adult should go first to model the correct response.
  • Take turns until the 6 photos are done.
  • Stay on this level until the child is consistently responding correctly

Level 2

  • Only ask WHO-WHAT and leave the rest blank
  • Do this for each photo, and the adult should go first to model the correct response.
  • Take turns until the 6 photos are done.
  • Stay on this level until the child is consistently responding correctly.
  • WHO is riding the bike?
  • WHAT is the boy doing?

Level 3

  • Only ask WHO-WHAT-WHERE and leave the rest blank
  • Do this for each photo, yougo first to model the correct response.
  • Take turns until the 6 photos are done.
  • Stay on this level until the child is consistently responding correctly
  • WHO is riding the bike?
  • What is the boy doing?
  • WHERE are they riding the bike?
  • Follow the same steps as level 1 and 2

Level 4

  • Only ask WHO-WHAT-WHERE-WHEN
  • WHO is riding the bike?
  • WHAT is the boy doing?
  • WHERE are they riding the bike?
  • WHEN are they riding the bike?
  • Repeat the same steps.

Level 5

  • Only ask WHO-WHAT-WHERE-WHEN-WHY
  • WHO is riding the bike?
  • WHAT is the boy doing?
  • WHERE are they riding the bike?
  • WHEN are they riding the bike?
  • WHY are they riding the bike?
  • Follow the same steps

Level 6

  • Only ask WHO-WHAT-WHERE-WHEN-HOW.
  • WHO is riding the bike?
  • WHAT is the boy doing?
  • WHERE are they riding the bike?
  • WHEN are they riding the bike?
  • WHY are they riding the bike?
  • HOW are they riding the bike?
  • Repeat the same steps.
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The Importance of Outdoor Play

By Simran Saroya

Outdoor is essential in a child’s life just as fruits and vegetables are. Natural elements incorporated into a child’s play is very important, it allows them to start understanding this world and how it works as well as build knowledge. Allowing the child to play outdoors will strengthen muscle strength and coordination, allow for deeper exploration and help them gain self-confidence.  

 Sometimes we think that a playground MUST be present for a child to have fun. In reality, a child can have fun in any environment with almost anything. From swinging on the swing and gaining a new perspective to digging in the dirt and analyzing the world around them. By adding additional equipment for your child to use outdoors you are adding to their learning through play but it is not necessarily needed. 

 Through this exciting process it was always nice to have someone accompany them. Having a buddy while discovering new things always make things more exciting. Being present and engaged with the child is a fun way to help your child learn new skills and information. An adult being present to answer their curious questions will allow the child to deeper understand the concept and build/ strengthen your relationship. There are six crucial benefits to keep in mind when your child wants to play outside. 

  1. Learning 
  1. Building Social Skills 
  1. Being Creative 
  1. Health 
  1. Exploring New Environments 

A child playing alongside peers or adults is co-learning and co-imagining which actually helps with building social skills and benefits their learning. Acorns may just look like acorns to us adults but to a child it could be food play or a treasure, you never know what their little minds will come up with. Roleplay is the most common way a child mimics the adults around them. This behavior is having them use their imaginative and creative side to come up with these scenarios. Using their imagination allows them to be creative and explore further and deeper into their play. Playing outside also has long term health benefits such as reduction of stress, regulation of the body and vitamin D consumption.  

 Now, you may be stuck with the question “How do I get my child to play outside?”. 

 In the world of technology today it is getting harder and harder to get their minds less engaged in screens and more engaged in the natural environments. Some ideas I can suggest include the following: to have a picnic, draw with chalk, turn on the sprinklers, go find some treasure or even ride bicycles together or with a friend. The chilly winter shouldn’t’ stop you either! In the winter the child can build snowmen, snow angels and paint the snow. Summer or winter, the child will find something to do outdoors regardless of the situation. Being prepared for the weather is the adults job, let the children do the rest. 

 Remember: Play does not have to be structured, let the child take the lead sometimes!

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The Real Life Experience of Sensory Processing Disorder

By Alyssa Neudorf

The first question most people ask is, what is sensory processing disorder (SPD)? I would describe it simply as processing the entire world differently. A person who is partially sighted or hearing impaired will process the information coming to those senses in a different way from someone with typical vision or hearing.

What does this mean for me? As a person with SPD, it means that I process all the information coming to ALL of my senses differently, more intensely and all at the same time. Most people have the luxury of blocking out repetitive stimuli like the clock ticking, the clothes you are wearing, the smells in the air and, the chair you are sitting on while reading – this is not something I get to do. I am aware of everything all the time.

When all this intense and repetitive information becomes too much something called sensory overload is reached. Sensory overload can look and feel different for each individual person. For me, it is something that happens suddenly. I am fine until I am not. I begin to feel very warm, shaky, things start to dim around the outside of my eyes. My brain starts to try and leave my body making it very, very hard to speak or move without help. It feels like there is a tonne of bricks stacked on my vocal cords and the signals to legs are slow or blocked. Mentally I know I can speak and I can move but making that happen is very hard. It is at this point that a simple question, touch or surprise will trigger a meltdown. People will often ask “what do you need?”, or “what can I do?” The problem is at this point I don’t know and if I do I can’t always tell you. I can’t think and I feel frozen and stuck with everything spinning, flashing and pounding away around me all while becoming more intense. Then hyperventilation kicks in.

Sound exhausting and painful yet?

Having a schedule and routine helps me to plan out my sensory energy for the day. There is only such much I can do with 20 tokens and everything in your days takes different amounts. Getting dressed, eating, school, being social, going outside, tying your shoes, and taking the bus just to name a few. As a result, I can’t drive yet even though I would like to, don’t go shopping much, I wear certain clothing, most of my shoes don’t have laces (those that still do will be replaced with elastics), and I only wear specific socks. Clothes shopping is a big challenge and thus is avoided and is only done on a day when I don’t have to do anything else that day.

That is just a small window into the life of one person with SPD. It is different from person to person. Hopefully this article has helped you gain some understanding of what it is like to have SPD.

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The Importance of Indoor Play

By: Simran Saroya

Sometimes we feel that it is easy to hand our children the iPad or phone to keep them occupied. Even on a snow day or a rainy day there are ways to make these situations positive interactions. Giving them a phone or tablet is easy but not the most interesting choice for your child. Indoor play can consist of more stimulating, fun and active play that will help your child’s brain develop.

When we think about indoor play, we talk about roleplaying, games and engagement opportunities. If you are baking cookies, having the child present and engaged is a form of play for them where they can use their senses and create something new. When thinking about play we should consider all five senses: look, listen, touch, smell and taste. Where can my child use these five senses with me?

Through play children are able to create healthy brain architecture which allows them to have better peer social interactions, use their imagination and creativity and engage with the world around them. Play is so important for children; it is the foundation to all the learning that is going to happen here on forward.  Play can also strengthen physical, emotional and cognitive strength within the child.

Now indoor play, how do you play inside on a rainy day or a day where the outdoors is not easily accessible? Here is a list of things you can do indoors with your child!

  1. Board games
  2. Scavenger hunt
  3. Make slime!
  4. Cook with your child (cookies, jello, rice krispies, or even prep for dinner)
  5. Read stories
  6. Visit an indoor play place (Telus Spark, Glenbow, swimming, Calgary public library)

Let your child take the lead and have them decide what they would like to do indoors with you or with a friend. This way the child feels a sense of independence in choosing an activity or game. Children create and preserve friendships through play therefore indoor and outdoor play are both essential in a child’s growth and development.

Understanding the benefits in your child’s play can be a bit confusing. Play fosters cognitive growth meaning that is essential for healthy brain development. Sometimes we believe that play must have a goal behind it, a structure to it. In reality, free play positively affects neurological connections by making those circuits in the brain stronger. Free play will allow your child to build communication skills, self-confidence and intelligence. Through play children become less anxious and more resilient to deal with real life situations. Once the adults in the child’s life understand how important it is to play, the child will benefit and the adults will benefit. Promoting play as quality time spent indoors will strengthen your relationship with your child and allow for meaning making and a world of connections to be brought to the table. It is amazing what their little minds can come up with!

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Hooray for reading with your child!

By: Stephanie Magnussen

Most parents know that it is important to read to their children.  Many parents do this naturally before bed even when their children are very young.  Children crave language and pick up on so much of what parents say in conversation during the day, but book reading is another opportunity to add words and phrases that may not naturally occur in everyday speech.  This exposure to language adds variety to the input kids are getting on a daily basis and can increase their language abilities.

The more you read to your child, the more language she will potentially acquire early on.  When parents read to their child, they use more diverse vocabulary and rephrase sentences in different ways, exposing children to varied sentence structure.  We have all noticed that as we get older, it gets harder and harder to master a new language.  Children learn an entirely new language within their first few years of life without even realizing they are mastering such a complicated skill.  During these impressionable years, it is important to expose children to not only lots of vocabulary, but different ways of saying things.  Books give parents the opportunity to get out of their daily way of speaking and add some different flavor to the language they are exposing to their children.  It also gives kids the chance to directly engage with the words and phrases on the page.

There are easy principles that can be applied to the way a parent reads to this child that can promote language development.  This method of dialogic reading can be used for typically developing children as well to increase language skills!  Parents can and should start reading to their children as early as eight months to aid in their language development.

  1. Guess the plot of the book after reading the title. The first time you and your child read a book, read the cover page to your child.  Encourage her to guess what the book could be about and take your time talking about this.

 

  1. Point to the words on the page as you read. Once you have read a book to your child one time through, point to the words as you are reading them.  You can name some of the letters and identify which one is the same as the first letter in her name.

 

  1. Expand on your child’s sentence. If a child says “blue,” the parent can respond and say “Yes, the kite is blue and so is the sky!”

 

  1. Model, model model! If a child cannot answer the question, simply say “That is a kite.  Can you say kite?”  This will instill a sense of accomplishment when they can repeat or attempt the word even if they were not able to find it the first time.  Then, later on, when they have learned the word, give them praise!

 

  1. Pause reading and respond to what a child is interested in on the page. Sometimes a child will point to or name something while a parent is reading.  Pause and expand on this by giving context to what she has named.  For example, “Yes, that is a kite and we can fly kites on windy days.”  This is also a good opportunity to talk about the story.  You can ask, “Remember when he flew the kite?” or “Have you ever flown a kite?”

 

  1. Prompt your child to read with you. Leave out the last word in a sentence and encourage your child to fill it in.

 

  1. Have fun! Reading can be free flowing with pauses to talk about interesting things on the page.  Parents can engage a child by asking her to help turn the page, encourage turn taking by pointing to objects and naming them, etc.  There should not be any pressure associated with reading and children should feel encouraged.  Make reading into a game or activity that you can share with your child!

 

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