Parents of children who are referred to Speech-Language Pathologists in preschool are often interested in ideas for enhancing their child’s language understanding at home.  The following are some ideas for stimulating comprehension skills during routine interaction at home:

  • Remember that hearing and listening are not the same.  If you suspect that your child is not always hearing well or has frequent episodes of congestion or middle ear infection or fluid, share your concerns with your child’s medical provider.
  • Establish eye contact with your child when speaking with them at home.  If needed, call your child’s name and wait for them to look at you before beginning to talk.  This will help to ensure that you have their attention which is a precursor to listening to a message.
  • Take time to listen when your child is communicating.  This means stopping what you are doing and focusing your attention on the chld while he/she is communicating with you.  This will send the message that you are interested in what they have to say and are ready to talk and listen.
  • Model courteous listening behavior yourself at home.  Avoid interrupting your family members at home and wait for them to finish a message.
  • Remove distractions such as background noise in the environment from the TV or radio to promote better listening.
  • Repeat and/or rephrase your message when needed.  If your child doesn’t seem to understand your first spoken message, try repeating your message a second time or rephrasing it in a different, more simplified way.
  • Allow your child extra wait time before responding to your question or direction so they have enough time to process the language.
  • Speak to your child using a form and vocabulary that they can comprehend. 
  • Have your child repeat directions back to you before beginning to carry them out.
  • Try presenting directions in small chunks of information; allow pauses between chunks for processing of information.
  • If your child doesn’t understand a question posed to them, rephrase the question into an “either-or” format so they can hear the two presented choices which will enable them to respond more easily.
  • Use gestures and other types of body language and pointing to add to your spoken message.
  • Read to your child daily.  Your child will benefit from listening to books that introduce new vocabulary and concepts, help them learn to sequence events they hear in a story, and expand basic listening and attention.
  • When watching television with your child, use the time as an opportunity to expand on what is happening in the show, ask questions to check comprehension and reinforce introduced vocabulary and concepts.


1.    Official website of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

2.  Apel, Kenn and Masterson, Julie J.  Beyond Baby Talk:  From Sounds to Sentences – A Parent’s Complete Guide to Language Development.  Roseville, CA:  Prima Publishing, 2001.

3.  Manolson, Ayala.  It Takes Two to Talk:  A Parent’s Guide to Helping Children Communicate.  Toronto:  The Hanen Centre, 1992.

By Jennifer G. Lyden, MS, CCC-SLP/L

This entry was posted in Receptive Language. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Another special thank you to Jennifer Lyden, a long-time colleague, who allowed this to be added to this website. Your hard work is very much appreciated, Jennifer!

Comments are closed.