Narrative Skills of Children who are DHH

narrative; deaf; children
Facebook groups are my way of staying up-to-date with parents' concerns and questions for their children who are DHH. I've seen a lot of discussions on narrative skills and questions about how to help children develop their story-telling skills..... so, this post is all about answering those questions 🙂 To answer those questions, I want to take you a (quick) tour and introduction to narrative skills.

Why Narrative Skills are Important

Your child's story-telling skills are worth keeping an eye on because they're a big factor in reading comprehension.  Reading comprehension is important because it's a big factor of success in the classroom. "Success in the Classroom" is a big deal for your child before that's where your child is every day for 8+ hours, 5 days a week. No one wants to see their child daily in an environment where they don't thrive and aren't able to reach their potential. You've probably noticed that your child's success (or lack of) in the classroom has a big affect on their attitude, demeanor, self-esteem and desire to learn and try new things. Now I've gotta get on my social-skills-soapbox and say that there are a number of factors that contribute to success in the classroom (like social skills and Theory-of-Mind). I can't find the research article, but I very distinctly remember reading during grad school that social-emotional skills in kindergarten predict academic success in third grade more than pre-academic skills in preschool. From that I take away that hardcore focus on academics in preschool isn't as crucial as developing social-emotional skills. (BTW, the research was also discussed at an academic conference I attended.... so I'm not making this all up 😉 Let's get back to defining "success in the classroom." In the case of reading comprehension, I view this more in terms of academic success. While social-emotional skills are incredibly important, your child also needs to develop skills to achieve academic success. Narrative skills are foundational for reading comprehension which is crucial for academic success Click To Tweet

Narrative Skills in Children who are DHH

One research study I found compared the language skills of kiddos with and without CIs and tried to improve the narrative skills of children who are DHH. The research revealed that children with CIs did well with language and reading comprehension and writing accuracy. The areas that popped up with concerns were sentence formulation and using fewer words when providing narratives. The study when on to provide training in story-telling and while most of the kiddos with CIs did improve, the really interesting part are the specific language skills they developed. Coordinating and subordinating conjunctions, postmodification of nouns and negative contractions are the language skills that showed improvement. Here's a cheat sheet of what all these things exactly are:
Purpose Examples Example in a Sentence
Coordinating Conjunctions Connect phrases And, but, for, nor, or, so, yet

I like this but he likes that.

Subordinating Conjunctions

Add contextual information After, now that, since, when, while, before She went to the store after she cashed the check
Postmodification of Nouns Describe a noun in detail In, that, taken, who

The girl who looked sad started to cry.

Negative Contractions Combine two words together Don’t, can’t, doesn’t, won’t

She doesn’t want to go to the store.

Throughout the study, parents seemed to have the biggest influence on their child's narratives skills. The parents who encouraged their child to tell stories, regularly used acoustic highlighting and recast strategies, and praised their child for telling stories had children with the most growth and improvement. Once again, parents are truly superheroes! Parent involvement is pretty much the most significant factor from language, to social skills and now story-telling abilities.

(Curious why parents provide the foundation for social skills? Click here)

Wrapping It Up

All in all, your child's story-telling demonstrates a variety of their language skills from vocabulary to sentence structures that require understanding of cause and effect relationships. There are a lot of programs and materials to develop your child's story-telling skills. I've used expensive kits and downloaded reasonably priced visuals from Teachers Pay Teachers and would personally just go with whatever is easier for you to access and afford. One idea is to give the Amazon Freetime free trial a try and explore tons of books and videos with your child. When you're reading together, I'd super focus on these concepts and language skills:
  1. Vocabulary: Before your child can really tell a story, they need to have some options of words to use.
  2. Sequencing: This will help your child learn how to identify the order of events and recognize cause & effect relationships.
  3. Conjunctions: Story-telling is more than just relaying information. Your child needs to be able to explain how events are connected and why one thing led to another.
  4. Parts of a Story: Characters, Setting, Conflict, Resolution, etc.
  5. Confidence: Encourage your child to tell stories and build confidence in their own skills.

Thanks for checking out how to help your child develop their narrative skills! Story-telling is important because it does affect reading comprehension but it's also one of my favorite ways to get to know a child and help them find their own voice and confidence. I love seeing children develop their confidence in themselves and know that their stories are worthwhile <3

If you need some ideas for teaching your child conjunctions Click Here

or curious about how to teach vocabulary? Check this Out

(P.S. This post may contain affiliate links 'cause momma needs to bring home the bacon. If I do receive a negligible kick-back, thank you!) Citation Justice, E. C., Swanson, L. A., & Buehler, V. (2008). Use of Narrative-Based Language Intervention With Children Who Have Cochlear Implants. Topics In Language Disorders28(2), 149-161. doi:10.1097/01.TLD.0000318935.54548.36

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