Answering and asking questions is an important part of learning. We ask questions in order to learn more information about something, and we answer questions to provide more information. Asking and answering questions is not only a part of how we learn, but it is also a part of our social skills; we ask and answer questions to be polite and build and maintain relationships.  Types of questions we ask and answer include “who”, “what”, “where”, “when”, and “why”.

 Answering questions involves having a child hear the question, think about the meaning of the question, understand the meaning of the question, form an answer, and speak the answer that they formed. Asking questions involves thinking about what you want ask, forming the question in your mind, and then producing the question that you want to ask. For children with speech and language delays, asking and answering questions can be a challenge. This challenge in asking and answering questions may affect their ability to learn and their ability to develop and build relationships.

Believe it or not some questions are easier to ask/answer than others. “What” questions are the easiest to learn, followed by “Who”, then “Where”, followed by “When”, and finally “Why”; “Why” questions being the most difficult for children to learn and master.

The following is a basic guideline on the types of questions a child may ask/answer according to their age. More information can be found at: https://parentresourcesblog.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/questions-development.pdf

·       Between 12-24 months, a child should be able to answer basic “What’s this?” questions about familiar objects, answer basic “where” questions by pointing, answer basic yes/no question by shaking their head or nodding, and use a rising pitch in their voice to indicate that they are asking a question (e.g., Daddy? to ask “Where is daddy?”)

·       Between 24-36 months, a child should point to objects being described (e.g., “Where do you wear a hat” and the child points to their head), answer longer “Where”, “What…doing”, and “Who is” questions, understand “Can you” questions, ask questions to get their basic wants/needs met (e.g., “where cup?”), and ask one-word “why?” questions

·       Between 36-48 months, a child should answer more complex questions, answer questions about object functions (e.g., what do you do with a spoon), and answer “if…what” questions (e.g., if you get sick, what would you do?)

If you find that your child is having difficulty asking/answering questions determine the type of question(s) that is the most problematic. Once you have figured out the type of question that is challenging for your child, talk about what it means to ask/answer that type of question. For example,

·       “what” means we are talking about a thing, such as the dog, the house, a cracker, etc.

·       “who” means we are talking about a person, like mommy and daddy, grandma/grandpa, etc.

·       “where” means we are talking about a place or location, such as the park, our house, or in the kitchen.

·       “when” means a time, such as daytime/nighttime, breakfast, summer, yesterday, or even a month like December

·       “why” means a reason, such as I fell down because I tripped on a rock.

Once you have talked about the type of question that is troublesome, use games and activities involving questions to teach your child about asking/answering questions while having fun at the same time. Games and activities could include, but are not limited to:

·       “Wh” Bingo

·       I Spy

·       Asking questions while reading a book

·       Asking questions while playing with toys (e.g., Where is the cow? What animal is this?)

·       Headbanz Game

If your child is still struggling to ask/answer questions or other speech and language skills, it is recommended to seek out a Speech and Language evaluation from your local Speech Therapist to determine if your child would qualify from services to improve these skills. For more information visit http://www.abcpediatrictherapy.com