Receptive Language

The two categories of language skills are receptive language and expressive language. Receptive language refers to how children interpret any type of linguistic information they receive (comprehension). Children who experience trouble with receptive language may not be able to understand language that is presented in writing, verbally, or both.

Here are some ideas for fun activities that will encourage your child’s developing receptive language skills:

1. Games for following directions

Games that use direction following are great to practice receptive language skills. These kinds of games help children practice listening skills in a fun way: 

  • Simon Says
    • This is a great way to practice following directions AND listening carefully for a “Simon Says” cue.
  • Twister
    • Twister encourages listening skills by practicing with color cues.
  • Scavenger hunt in the house
    • List a few things your child can go search for in the house, like “tape, blue socks, sunglasses”. He or she can practice repeating these until everything is found.  This is also a fun game to play if your child has a friend over.
  • Be creative with activities your child prefers
    • For example, if your child loves Legos, practice direction following by listing Lego colors he or she can pick in sequence.

2. Reading activities

Reading has so many positive effects on every child’s language skills. Simply reading a book and asking your child to explain what just happened in the story is a great way to help him or her practice summarizing what is happening in the story while you are reading. This is a very practical skill to practice, as children need to be able to interpret stories in school. While you read, you can ask your child questions like:

  • What happened to the main character on this page?
  • What does the author mean by that?
  • What do you think is going to happen next?

3. Sequencing

Practice these skills in everyday situations to help your child get used to organizing information in his or her head in a sequence.

  • Have your child explain the steps of every day activities, like making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or getting ready for bed.
  • Practice using words like first, next, and last

Practicing these receptive language skills at home is a great idea for children who attend speech and language therapy sessions, like many we see at our practice in San Francisco. I also encourage you to ask your child’s speech and language pathologist for ways you can practice more specific receptive language skills based on your child’s needs. 

Read more about receptive language disorders and some suggestions to help children with developing receptive language skills.