Helping Your Child to Understand Idioms

Use pictures to help your child to understand idioms used in conversations.
Use pictures to help your child to understand idioms used in conversations like, “piece of cake”.

Does your child have difficulty understanding idioms? Idioms are commonly used phrases that say one thing but mean something completely different. Like “spill the beans”, “piece of cake” or “it’s raining cats and dogs”.

All age groups use idioms and it’s important that your child learn the ones that are used commonly by his peers.

Learning idioms is challenging for all kids and some have more difficulty, particularly special needs children.  For children who have social skills deficits, participating in conversations with their peers is often a big problem.

Understanding Idioms vs. Using Them

It is important for your child to understand idioms and how other kids use them, since they are so common in everyday conversation. Helping your child to get a grasp on the most used idioms can go a long way towards making him more comfortable in conversations. He’ll gain a better understanding of what’s really being said in conversations. 5Js Website reminds us that,

…the ability to understand idioms is essential to being able to comprehend the meaning of what is being communicated.

Use Pictures

Kimberly Kaplan shares on her blog, Modern Mom, how challenging idioms are for her son with special needs to understand. She writes, He tends to take things very seriously and has trouble broadening what he knows. He can’t accept that a phrase may say one thing yet mean something completely different.

Kimberly reminds us that many special needs children are visual learners. She uses books with funny drawings of idioms like “putting his foot in his mouth” with her son to help him understand. He looks at the goofy picture of a boy trying to put his foot in his mouth. She then explains how the idiom is used in conversations.

You can follow Kimberly Kaplan on Twitter at @tipsautismmom

Explain with Short Sentences

The website, English Idioms Daily Blog lists five idioms that are deemed good to teach young children. They also include excellent examples of short sentences you can use to help your child understand how idioms are used in conversations.

Here are English Idioms Daily Blog’s examples for ‘man’s best friend’, the dog. Man’s best friend is the dog. Here are two examples using this English expression (idiom):

Cats are nice, but I prefer man’s best friend.
Yesterday, Lena watched a film on man’s best friend.
What kind of animal do you like best? Why do you think dogs are called man’s best friend?

Friendship Circle Blog considers teaching your child about using idioms one of the basic social skills. They highlight two websites with lists of idioms to practice and games to that have the child guess what the idiom really means. Check outFun Brain or   Read Friendship Circle’s full article here.

We like the advice Kimberly Kaplan shares at the close of her article, Try to start early with your child. Earlier is always better. And, try not to get frustrated if it takes a long while for them to “get it.” It’s an investment in your child, but it’ll be worth it!

Thank you Kimberly Kaplan for a valuable article, Children With Special Needs: Understanding Idioms!


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photo credit: henribergius via photopin cc

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