As early as 2 and 3 years old, typically developing children begin producing narratives about what they see and do in their everyday life. As development continues, these narratives begin to include stories about the past, present, and future. Narrative language abilities are a foundational skill to higher level language such as analyzing, retelling, summarizing, and explaining written text. A deficit in narrative language production can affect a child’s academic performance and social skill abilities.
It is important that children utilize story grammar elements when developing narrative language skills, which act as a “cognitive map” to support the comprehension and production of narratives. Many kids who struggle to produce or comprehend narratives greatly benefit from visual supports (pictures, illustrations of a sequence of events) in order to teach story elements. Books, shared experiences, and videos can also be used to facilitate narrative language productions by emphasizing characters, setting, problem, solution, and other various story events. Many Speech-Language Pathologists use a variety of tools to supplement narrative development including topic boards, augmentative and alternative communication devices, sequencing pictures, and modeling.
Using picture sequences of a child performing a preferred activity is a great way to include sequential narratives into a daily routine. Once a child is accurately producing personal narratives, the focus can shift to summarizing and retelling stories from books.