If you work with preschool and early elementary aged children in speech therapy, you are going to be working on correct pronoun usage. Although autistic children often struggle with pronouns, it’s also a common error for many language delayed children. Most children who struggle with pronouns struggle with the part of speech or grammar. It’s not usually a matter of not understanding or recognizing different genders. The most prevalent error is overgeneralization of “he.” Continue reading for hands-on ways to teach pronouns in speech therapy!
How Pronouns Develop
“Mine” is usually the first pronoun to appear in a child’s vocabulary and appears by 2 years of age. The subjective pronouns “he” and “she” emerge between 2.5 and 3 years.
These are often where you will begin to see pronoun confusion. Objective and possessive pronouns emerge even later. Be sure to do a careful analysis to determine if the issue is between using masculine and feminine pronoun forms or if there is confusion between subjective, objective, or possessive grammatical forms.
Perfect Practice for Pronouns
If you work on “he” and “she” right from the beginning, you will spend a lot more time working towards mastery. Setting up activities for “perfect practice” will ensure faster progress. “Perfect practice” means you will only work on one pronoun at a time before moving on to another.
This is an important tip to share with caregivers!
Start with “he” since that is typically the one children overgeneralize. Have the child choose several toys/stuffies that they view as boys or use photos of family members or classmates. Make sure they’ve mastered using “he” for these characters/people before moving on to the girls.
When you do move on, have the child choose several toys/stuffies they view as girls or use photos of family members or classmates. ONLY practice “she” until they’ve mastered it before combining both male and female characters.
These pronoun readers offer a low prep “perfect practice” activity you can send home for extra practice after assembling in your therapy sessions.
It’s important that the child designates which characters are boys and which are girls especially if you are using toys or characters that could be seen as either. You want to make sure that you’re working on grammar not gender!
Want to include singular “they?” You can add it in as a separate skill (from he/she) to master at any time, but often the most success comes from addressing plural and singular “they” at the same time after he/she is consistent.
7 Activities to Work on Pronouns in Speech Therapy
When it comes to working on pronouns I speech, one or two pronoun activities isn’t going to cut it! Children with language delays often need practice – a lot of practice – with this skill and a variety of activities help with carry-over and accommodates a wide range of interests.
Note: Many children’s toys contain a lot of gender stereotyping. While this isn’t something to actively promote, you can use it to your advantage when working on pronouns.
This classic duo does double duty for pronouns and body part/clothing vocabulary. “He needs ears.”
These are a combination of puzzles/paper dolls which allow for easy clothing changes. I’m partial to the professions outfits. “She’s an astronaut.”
Pull out all the Marvel and Avenger characters for some action packed practice with “he” (save Wonder Woman and Black Widow for the next activity). “He’s running in to save the day!”
Those well-known Disney princesses come in handy here and there’s no reason they can’t fraternize with Wonder Woman, Black Widow, and Batgirl. “She’s coming to the rescue!”
Little love to act out what they see regularly which is why baby dolls are always a popular choice. Choose either a boy or a girl baby to address your needs. “He needs a bath.”
Again, littles are familiar with going to the doctor and usually enjoy the pretend play of a doctor’s visit. “She’s had a terrible cough, doctor.”
Pull out a dollhouse and characters to stand-in for the child’s adults. This is a great activity for the point when you are combining pronouns. “He’s ready for dinner. She is going to bed.”
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