24 Months 1 Week – Answering a Variety of “Wh” Questions

Roman with dino capThe most difficult part of answering a “wh” questions is actually knowing the meaning of the “wh” word. For instance, you have to know that “who” is asking for a person, “where” is asking for a place, “what” is asking for a thing, “when” is referring to a time, and “why” is asking for a reason. “When” and “where” may still be too complicated for this age, but it’s always good to throw it in here and there.

When talking about “who” you can stick to basic things like looking through a photo album to label family members names or you can make it harder as in “Who drives a bus?”.  Visual support is always welcome at this age and can be in the form of pictures, illustrations in books, videos, etc.  And remind them that “who” is asking for a person.    

As for “what”, it could be as simple as asking “What is this?” while using a flashcard, reading a book, etc.  This usually only encourages a one-word response since it is not open-ended.  You can make it slightly more complicated by saying “What do you see?”, “What do you need?”, etc.  This allows for them to use a start phrase such as “I see a duck”.  You can then go onto more difficult questions such as “What does a cow say?”, “What do you wear when it’s hot?”  

When referring to “where” they have to know that you are asking about a place, so we find that when you’re walking down the street, driving, etc. it is helpful to talk about where you are going.  You can even talk about the immediate here and now and ask “Where are you right now?” (e.g. – at home, in the car, in the stroller, etc.).  It also gradually helps them understand concepts that are not tangible such as “Where is daddy?” (e.g. – work, on a business trip, etc.) – actual pictures of daddy at his workplace would also be great!

21 Months 2 Weeks – Asking “Where” Questions

Roman playing When your child begins to ask question it is certainly the cutest thing on Earth!  It might not even start as the word and they may just hold their hands up as if to ask where.  They are basically copying what they see us do.  In order to promote questions such as “where” things or people need to disappear!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

We find that using naturally occurring opportunities is always a great way to target “where”.  Let’s say in your household one parent goes to work in the morning and you practice saying “Bye Bye”… after that person leaves ask “Where did ____ go?”.  The more consistent you are with your language, the more likely they will try to imitate it and then ultimately say it independently.  Also, do not hesitate to talk about where Mommy and Daddy actually are.  They of course do not fully understand the concept of work, shopping, errands, etc. yet, but it’s teaching them that when people ask “where” it is referring to a place.  It also helps give them a sense of time and routine (e.g. – we run errands in the afternoon).  

And there are of course the millions of language opportunities that you can intentionally create, which is great for practicing object permanence.  For instance, you can keep it simple and use a blanket and have a block disappear under the blanket and then ask “where” while also doing a confused gesture.  You can also do more involved activities such as creating a sensory bin filled with rice, beans, grass, leaves, etc.  Hide some of their favorite objects inside or magnets, animals, shapes, letters, etc. Before looking you can model “where” once again and then comment on what you find within the sensory bin.  It’s a great vocabulary building activity!