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Strategies to support understanding of spoken language at home (FS2/KS1)

How do I provide visual support for spoken language?

a visual timetable reading 'first' 'next' 'then' 'then' and finally'

Use a visual timetable. This gives structure and lets your child know what to expect.

hands moving around to indicate sign language

Support spoken language with visual materials, for example objects and pictures.

picture of three pens

Label the environment, for example ‘pens’ or ‘bathroom’.

How do I support understanding when giving instructions?

one big square next to one small square to show something big being broken down or simplified

Break language down into small chunks.

numbers one, two, three

Give instructions one step at a time.

a group of circle that have been sorted in a line start from big to small

Give instructions in the order they need to be done.

speech bubble arrows pointing down from the bubble to the ground

Repeat key instructions.


Speak at a slower rate than normal to allow your child to process what has been said.

Person kneeling down

Get down to your child’s level when you are talking or playing with them.

How do I make sure they are understanding?

green tick

Praise your child when they do something well and be specific:

  • “Good sharing”
  • “Well done for tidying up”
  • “You listened really well”


question mark

Check back with your child that they have understood what they need to do by using symbol cards (see below) or by asking open ended questions,  for example, “What do you need to do?”



Green box with two symbols inside meaning 'I understand'

Use symbols for your child to use, for example:

  • green for “I understand”
  • orange for “I’m not sure”
  • red for “I don’t understand”

Additional resources and information

A SWAY training module on Strategies for supporting children’s spoken language. Presented by Alice Woods (Speech and Language Therapist).

For information, a range of resources and fact sheets for parents / carers, to help children develop their speech, language and communication skills visit: Speech and Language UK

Contact us

For more information please contact the Speech and Language Therapy Service at Flockton House on 0114 226 2333.

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: SL37

Resource Type: Article

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