By Donna Shea & Nadine Briggs
Conversation skills are something that many parents ask us to work on when we are social coaching kids. The ability to initiate and sustain a conversation can prove a huge task, taking a large degree of effort, especially for kids with a known social communication difficulty. There are ways to break down a conversation into parts.
Conversations are made up of just two elements, comments and questions. So, kids need to learn to make a comment and ask a question. If you decide to practice this at home, two comments to each question is a good start, and then switch roles.
Some kids get stuck on asking questions. We can simplify this component by teaching kids that most questions in a conversation are WH questions. Who, What, When, Why, Where, Whose, Which, and How (which contains a W and an H).
A conversation practice session could go something like this:
- Q: Who is your teacher next year? A: Mrs. Smith.
- C: I hear she’s really nice. C: She doesn’t give a lot of homework.
- Q: Where is your homeroom? A: On the second floor.
- C: That must mean you are in 5th grade.
- Q: When does school start in your town? A: September 8th.
- C: I start on the 16th. C: It will be two days in school and three days at home.
- Q: How do you get to school? A: I ride the bus.
- C: My mom drives me.
- Q: What is your favorite subject? A: Math
- C: You must be good at math. C: I like science the best.
If your child struggles with conversation skills, have them memorize the WH questions and think of them as a tool in their communication toolbox. If they are ever in doubt during a conversation, they can enter with a WH question on the topic being discussed.