Language Skills for Your Emerging Story-Teller

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 (aka story-telling) and questions about how to help children develop their story-telling skills..... so, this post is all about answering those questions 🙂

Why are Story-Telling Skills 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.

I'm guessing you're all about helping your child be successful in school.

Story-telling skills are foundational for reading comprehension. Click To Tweet

Narrative Skills Research

One research study I found compared the language skills of kiddos with and without CIs. The researchers then investigated how to improve the narrative skills of children who had cochlear implants.

The research revealed that children with CIs did well with language comprehension, reading comprehension and writing accuracy. The areas that popped up with concerns were sentence formulation and using fewer words when providing narratives.

Language Comprehension
Reading Comprehension
Writing Accuracy
Sentence Formulation
Number of Words

Results of Story-Telling Training

So the study didn't just assessment the children's skills. The study when on to provide training in story-telling. While most of the kiddos with CIs did improve, the really interesting part are the specific language skills they developed.

The children with CIs improved their use of:

  1. Coordinating Conjunctions
  2. Subordinating Conjunctions
  3. Postmodification of Nouns
  4. Negative Contractions

If I hadn't gone to grad school and had specific training with the ins-and-outs of grammar, then I'd have to google these grammar concepts. Because you're most likely not obsessed with grammar like I am (which makes you normal).... here's a quick cheat sheet.

 PurposeExamplesExample in a Sentence
Coordinating ConjunctionsConnect phrasesAnd, but, for, nor, or, so, yet I like this but he likes that.
Subordinating Conjunctions Add contextual informationAfter, now that, since, when, while, beforeShe went to the store after she cashed the check
Postmodification of NounsDescribe a noun in detailIn, that, taken, who The girl who looked sad started to cry.
Negative ContractionsCombine two words togetherDon’t, can’t, doesn’t, won’t She doesn’t want to go to the store.

I love detailed data like this! As a Teacher of the Deaf, this gives me some specific skills to work on! I work a lot on helping kiddos increase their MLU and learn grammar skills. After reading over this research, I'll keep make sure to pre-teach these grammar concepts and review them while working on narrative telling.

I have to also comment, what a fantastic thing that language and reading comprehension were strengths for these kiddos with CIs! Major victory!

So during the research study.... guess what (or better 'who') had the biggest influence on the research outcomes? Parents!

How Parents Support Children's Story-Telling Skills

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.

  • Encourage Story-Telling
  • Regularly Use Acoustic Highlighting
  • Regularly Use Sentence Recast
  • Praised Story-Telling Attempts

Once again, parents are truly superheroes! Parental involvement is incredibly important for language, to social skills and (now we can also say) story-telling abilities.

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

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.

Here are a few specific ideas:

Another idea is to give the Amazon Freetime free trial a try and explore tons of books and videos with your child.

Tips for Reading with Your Child

When you're reading together, I'd focus on these things:

  1. Use acoustic highlighting to teach new vocabulary.
  2. Use auditory closure to engage your child in the story's language.
  3. Talk about the sequence of events in a story. This could help your child learn how to recognize and explain cause & effect relationships.
  4. Use sentence recast to explain cause/effect. (Use the words: so, because, after, then)
  5. Confidence: Encourage your child to tell stories and build confidence in their own skills. Praise your child for trying!

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

(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!)


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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