Basic Concepts: Spatial Positions

Basic concepts are an important topic for speech and language.  This is a set of vocabulary that children need in order to follow directions, participate in a classroom/household, and to interact in the world appropriately.  Basic concepts are the building blocks for academics. 

Some basic concepts that are often taught in preschool and/or speech/language intervention include:
Sizes (big, little, small, tiny, huge, etc.)
Quantity (more, less, a lot, a few, etc.)
Spatial positions (in, on, under, over, behind, etc.)
Time/Sequencing (first, next, last, morning, night, etc.)
Texture (bumpy, smooth, sticky, slimy, etc.)

Here is a reading from a great adaptive book by Panda Speech.  You can find this book and many more of her wonderful resources in her Teachers Pay Teachers Store

This book also does a great job of addressing yes/no questions and /what/ questions (identifying animals).

Super Duper Inc offers a lot of free handouts for parents.  This one has good, concise information on basic concepts:

Parent Handout on Basic Concepts

There are two ways to target position words: receptively and expressively.  

Receptive Language refers to what we understand.  If we are working on position words for receptive language, we might ask the child to "put the bunny on the table".  The child is working on position words and the word "on", but they don't have to say anything. 

Expressive Language refers to what we can say or communicate (through any means, sign language, pointing, gesturing, talking, etc.).  It doesn't have to be verbal, but it does need to communicate something.  For this, we might put the bunny on the table and say "where is the bunny?"  We'd expect the child to communicate "on" (either through verbal or nonverbal communication expressively).

Ways parents can practice position words: 
As parents, we are our children's first and most consistent teachers.  We can teach language by modeling it from an early age, birth!  You can use position words all day long.  "I'm putting your sock on your foot." "Let's get the milk out of the fridge."  "We are going to get in the car now."  I often tell parents, if you've talked to the point that you're tired and feel a little bit silly, you're on the right track!

Ways to Talk to Your Child During the Day: 

  • While getting them dressed.
  • While fixing their food.
  • Singing songs
  • Reading books or talking while looking at the pictures
  • While riding in the car ("look, I see a horse!")
  • Giving them words when they don't have any ("I can see that you are very sad right now!")
  • While watching a movie
  • While getting ready for bed
  • While getting into or out of the car
  • While playing with toys
  • On an outing to the grocery store
  • While making a phonecall to a friend or relative
For more ideas on incorporating spatial positions or making resources for your child at home, check here.

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