Recalling Past Events and a Free Visual Tool

Have you ever asked your child, “What did you do at school today?” only to get this response, “I don’t know?”

It can be so incredibly frustrating to hear that same response day after day.

If your child is non-verbal, this blogpost still pertains to you. I am giving you a free visual tool to help him communicate with you regarding what he did in school (scroll down to read more).

Or, have you ever had a conversation with your child about something that happened 6 months ago during your summer vacation, but he talks about it like it happened yesterday?

Your child’s sense of time, and ability to recall past events, can be truly tricky for him.

Here are a few things you can do to help:

1. Use a calendar. Write down or draw pictures on the calendar to help your child understand what is happening in the future and what has already occurred. You can even print out images and glue them onto the calendar. Place the calendar on the wall at your child’s eye-level. Encourage him to cross out the days after they are finished. Explain that everything that’s been crossed out happened in the past.
2. In addition to a monthly calendar, use a week at a glance calendar. List any important events on the calendar, such as school, therapy, and special dinners. Every day, review this schedule with your child. Ask him what today, yesterday, and tomorrow is.
3. Ask your child’s teacher to send home daily notes outlining what has occurred in school. This is especially important on days where things are a little different. Let the teacher know that your child is having challenges recalling past events, and you would like to work on this skill with him. Click here for a free visual tool that you can give to your child’s teacher to make communicating with you easy.
4. Switch up the language you use when asking your child about school. Instead of saying, “What did you do at school today?” try saying, “Tell me three things you did at school today.” Hold up three fingers, and as your child tells you each activity, put your finger down. This acts as a visual to help your child understand your request. Here are some other questions you can ask:

  • What was one thing that you learned today?
  • Who did you play with during recess today?
  • Who made you laugh today?
  • Who made you feel happy/sad/angry/frustrated today (only choose one emotion at a time when asking this question)?
  • What did you play with during your free time today?
  • What is one thing you learned during math/reading/science/social studies (only choose one subject when asking this question)?

Recalling past events isn’t easy for many kids, but with practice and patience, you are opening up the doors to communication.

P.S. Click here for that FREE visual tool that you can use with your child to help him communicate school activities with you. Be sure to give your child’s teacher a copy of the visual.

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Jennifer Lingle, M.Ed.

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