Asking and Answering Questions
Children with speech and language delays often have difficulty asking and answering questions appropriately. This is a difficult skill as it requires the child to understand what is being asked, process the question, form an answer, and speak that answer. Or, if the child is asking a question, it requires formulation of the question with all of the words in the correct order (which is often backwards from the word order for statements).
When Should Children be Asking and Answering Questions?
Not all questions are created equal. Some questions are easier for children to learn and others require more complex thinking and verbal skills. If you are wondering what type of questions to begin using with a child, take a look at the ages that typically-developing children master them. Start with the easier ones and work your way toward the harder ones.
Age ~~ Question Skills Mastered
1-2 yrs ~~ Chooses from two objects (by pointing or speaking) when asked what she wants
Answers simple “where” questions by pointing, such as “where’s the ball”
Answers “what’s this” questions about familiar objects or pictures
Answers yes/no questions, possibly with a head nod or shake
Starts to use question words, beginning with “what’s that?”
Uses a rising intonation (pitch goes up at the end) to indicate that she’s asking something, like saying “Daddy?”
2-3 yrs ~~ Points to objects when described, such as “What do you wear on your head?”
Answers longer questions, such as “where…?”, “what….doing?”, and “who is…..?”
Answers or understands “Can you…” questions
Asks basic questions about her own wants and needs, such as “where cookie?”
Asks “Where…?”, “What…?”, “What….doing?” questions
3-4 yrs ~~ Answers more complex questions, such as “who”, “why”, “where”, and “how”
Answers “If…what…?” questions, such as “if it starts raining, what do you do?”
Answers questions about the function of objects “what do you do with a fork?”
Uses “what, where, when, how, and whose” when asking questions
Asks “Is…” Questions
Inverts word order to ask, such as “Is daddy going?” instead of “Daddy is going?”
4 yrs ~~ Answers “when” questions
Answers “how many” questions (as long as the answer doesn’t exceed 4)
Asks the following types of questions using correct grammatical structure: “Do you want to…”, “Are we going to…”, “can you…”
How to Assess Questions
There are plenty of standardized tests that will evaluate how a child does on answering or asking questions, but you can also gather this information informally as well. To assess the child’s ability to ask questions, simply collect a language sample while you do a complicated activity with the child. Record what types of questions the child asks and if he asks them correctly. If the child never uses any questions, you may want to start with some of the easier forms.
To assess a child’s ability to answer questions, you will want to ask him many questions. Start with a series of questions that are very similar except for the “wh-” word. The example below has 5 very similar questions that you can ask a child to see if he is able to understand the specific “wh-” question words:
- What did you eat for breakfast?
- Where did you eat breakfast?
- Who did you eat breakfast with?
- When did you eat breakfast?
- How did you eat breakfast?
- Why did you eat breakfast?
When you ask a child those questions, you will be able to tell if he understands the “wh” words or not. For example, if he responds with “cereal” for “who did you eat breakfast with”, then he probably doesn’t understand that “who” means “what person”. Once you see which ones he had the most trouble with, you can ask other questions with that “wh-” word to see if he really has trouble with that group or if it was just that one example that threw him off.
Therapy Activities for Questions
Click the topic below to see therapy activities for the different questions:
Asking Questions with Good Word Order
Answering Questions Overview (Podcast)
Teaching How Questions
Why Questions for Kids
How to Teach a Child “What” Questions
Who Questions: How to Teach Them
How to Teach a Child When Questions
Where Questions for Kids: 5 Easy Steps
Yes/No Questions for Kids: How to Teach Them
How to Teach a Child Any New Skill By Fading Supports
Free Printable Activities for Questions
Brown Bear Story Prop: Good for What and Where Questions
What Do You See Vocabulary Game: Good for What and Where Questions
Where Questions File Folder Game
Funny Faces Game: Good for What, Who, and Where Questions
He/She Game: Good for Who and What Questions
When Questions File Folder Game
Preschool Vocabulary and Question Cards: Many questions on the back of each card! Huge bank of questions of all types
Where Does it Go? Good for Where and What Questions
Tell Me About it Descriptors Game: Good for How and What questions
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Difficulties with Mathematics
What Can Stand in the Way of a Student's Mathematical Development?Math disabilities can arise at nearly any stage of a child's scholastic development. While very little is known about the neurobiological or environmental causes of these problems, many experts attribute them to deficits in one or more of five different skill types. These deficits can exist independently of one another or can occur in combination. All can impact a child's ability to progress in mathematics.
Incomplete Mastery of Number Facts
Number facts are the basic computations (9 + 3 = 12 or 2 x 4 = 8) students are required to memorize in the earliest grades of elementary school. Recalling these facts efficiently is critical because it allows a student to approach more advanced mathematical thinking without being bogged down by simple calculations.
Try it yourself. Experience a problem with basic facts.
Many students, despite a good understanding of mathematical concepts, are inconsistent at computing. They make errors because they misread signs or carry numbers incorrectly, or may not write numerals clearly enough or in the correct column. These students often struggle, especially in primary school, where basic computation and "right answers" are stressed. Often they end up in remedial classes, even though they might have a high level of potential for higher-level mathematical thinking.
Difficulty Transferring Knowledge
One fairly common difficulty experienced by people with math problems is the inability to easily connect the abstract or conceptual aspects of math with reality. Understanding what symbols represent in the physical world is important to how well and how easily a child will remember a concept. Holding and inspecting an equilateral triangle, for example, will be much more meaningful to a child than simply being told that the triangle is equilateral because it has three equal sides. And yet children with this problem find connections such as these painstaking at best.
Some students have difficulty making meaningful connections within and across mathematical experiences. For instance, a student may not readily comprehend the relation between numbers and the quantities they represent. If this kind of connection is not made, math skills may be not anchored in any meaningful or relevant manner. This makes them harder to recall and apply in new situations.
Incomplete Understanding of the Language of Math
For some students, a math disability is driven by problems with language. These children may also experience difficulty with reading, writing, and speaking. In math, however, their language problem is confounded by the inherently difficult terminology, some of which they hear nowhere outside of the math classroom. These students have difficulty understanding written or verbal directions or explanations, and find word problems especially difficult to translate.
Difficulty Comprehending the Visual and Spatial Aspects and Perceptual Difficulties.
A far less common problem -- and probably the most severe -- is the inability to effectively visualize math concepts. Students who have this problem may be unable to judge the relative size among three dissimilar objects. This disorder has obvious disadvantages, as it requires that a student rely almost entirely on rote memorization of verbal or written descriptions of math concepts that most people take for granted. Some mathematical problems also require students to combine higher-order cognition with perceptual skills, for instance, to determine what shape will result when a complex 3-D figure is rotated.
Try it yourself. Experience a visualization challenge.
Signs of Math Difficulties
Output DifficultiesA student with problems in output may
- be unable to recall basic math facts, procedures, rules, or formulas
- be very slow to retrieve facts or pursue procedures
- have difficulties maintaining precision during mathematical work
- have difficulties with handwriting that slow down written work or make it hard to read later
- have difficulty remembering previously encountered patterns
- forget what he or she is doing in the middle of a math problem
Organizational DifficultiesA student with problems in organization may
- have difficulties sequencing multiple steps
- become entangled in multiple steps or elements of a problem
- lose appreciation of the final goal and over emphasize individual elements of a problem
- not be able to identify salient aspects of a mathematical situation, particularly in word problems or other problem solving situations where some information is not relevant
- be unable to appreciate the appropriateness or reasonableness of solutions generated
Language DifficultiesA student with language problems in math may
- have difficulty with the vocabulary of math
- be confused by language in word problems
- not know when irrelevant information is included or when information is given out of sequence
- have trouble learning or recalling abstract terms
- have difficulty understanding directions
- have difficulty explaining and communicating about math, including asking and answering questions
- have difficulty reading texts to direct their own learning
- have difficulty remembering assigned values or definitions in specific problems
Attention DifficultiesA student with attention problems in math may
- be distracted or fidgety during math tasks
- lose his or her place while working on a math problem
- appear mentally fatigued or overly tired when doing math
Visual Spatial or Ordering DifficultiesA student with problems in visual, spatial, or sequential aspects of mathematics may
- be confused when learning multi-step procedures
- have trouble ordering the steps used to solve a problem
- feel overloaded when faced with a worksheet full of math exercises
- not be able to copy problems correctly
- may have difficulties reading the hands on an analog clock
- may have difficulties interpreting and manipulating geometric configurations
- may have difficulties appreciating changes in objects as they are moved in space
Difficulties with multiple tasksA student with problems managing and/or merging different tasks in math may
- find it difficult to switch between multiple demands in a complex math problem
- find it difficult to tell when tasks can be grouped or merged and when they must be separated in a multi-step math problem
- cannot manage all the demands of a complex problem, such as a word problem, even thought he or she may know component facts and procedures
MATHEMATICS: Basics | Difficulties | Responses