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Responding To “Wh” Questions

“Who, What, Where, When, & Why”

“Wh” questions include:  What, Who, When, Why and How. Everyday experiences are the building blocks for learning how to respond to them.

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  • Present your child with developmentally appropriate “wh” questions. “What” and “Where” questions are usually the easiest to answer, and “Who” and “Why” are more difficult.  It is much easier for your child to answer a question when there is a visual and contextual cue such as an object, picture or person that you are asking the question about. 
  • Ask your child simple questions while engaged in day-to-day routines such as dressing, bathing, mealtime, playing, reading books, and pointing to pictures.
  • Use questions along with interactive games and activities (e.g., place a blanket over your head and say “Where’s mommy?”).
  • Place items in front of your child and then gradually increase the distance until it is out of reach and eventually out of sight.
  • Ask questions such as, “What do you want?” or “Where’s ____?” and then model the correct response.
  • Ask questions about people, objects, and situations that your child is most interested in and familiar with.
  • Use hand over hand assistance to help your child respond to the question.
  • Model the appropriate response.
  • Reinforce any gesture such as looking, reaching or pointing.
  • Verbally exaggerate the question and emphasize a word that will give your child a hint (e.g., Where is the ball?).