Pragmatic Language Skills & 25 Conversation Starters for Kids

Jul 14th, 2021 | by Amanda Wallace

Amanda Wallace

July 14th, 2021

Did you know that by increasing the number of conversations you have with your child, you are also increasing their language skills? It’s true and these conversation starters for kids will help you get started! Conversations are a great way to target pragmatic language skills.

What are Pragmatic Language Skills?

More commonly known as social skills, pragmatic language skills are the skills we use when communicating with one another within a social situation. And by having more daily conversations with your child you are helping them practice this important part of language. 

25 Conversation Starters for Kids by a Speech Language Pathologist

Here are 25 conversation starters you can easily include in daily activities and examples of simple questions to use.  

Favorites & Interests Conversation Starters

Asking about something your child likes is an easy way to peak their interest and practice having a conversation. It is also a great way to introduce follow up questions such as who, what, where, when and why to keep the convo going!  

1. What is your favorite [category]?

2. What do you like to do for fun?

3. How do you like to make your [preferred item]?

4. Tell me about your favorite [item]?

5. What are some cool games?


Daily Events Conversation Starters

Having a conversation about what your child did in a day is a great way to practice conversational skills consistently. It also introduces conversations into their daily routine and helps them practice other language skills such as recalling and retelling information.  

6. What did you do in school today? 

7. How was practice?  

8. What did you do when you got home? 

9. How was your day?  

10. Did you eat breakfast?  


Occasions and Holidays Conversation Starters for Kids

Most children are excited by special occasions and yearly events such as their birthday, Halloween, or Thanksgiving. Because of this, they can become highly motivated and participate more when talking about this topic.  

11. What did you do for your Easter? 

12. Do you have any plans for summer vacation?  

13. What do you want to do for your birthday?  

14. Who do you think we should invite for Thanksgiving dinner?  

15. Do you like Valentine’s Day?  


Hypothetical and/or Situational Scenarios Conversation Starters

Although a little more complex, talking about hypothetical situations is a great way to get kids thinking outside the box. Coming up with silly questions can also motivate kids to continue the conversation and get creative with their questions and answers.  

16. Would you rather eat pizza forever or eat one vegetable a day?  

17. What would you do if someone you didn’t know approaches you?  

18. What would you do if you had a million dollars?  

19. What superpower would you want?  

20. What do you think you’d do if someone tried to copy your test?  


Past, Present, and Future Events Conversation Starters

Asking about the past, present, and future is a great topic to talk about! Most parents know their children’s schedule ahead of time and/or are typically participating in the activity with their kids, which helps keep the questions and answers accurate. Past, present, and future conversations also allows for parents to model grammar concepts (present tense, past tense) and encourage kids to use it in their sentences.  

21. What did you do last weekend? 

22. What did you want to do for winter break?  

23. Are you enjoying that game?  

24. How was the birthday party?  

25. What did you think of that movie?


Tips for Introducing Conversations to Children

When introducing structured conversations to your kids, make sure to provide them with support. Support can be in a form of a verbal cue or prompt, a visual cue, or a direct verbal model. Examples of support during conversations are:   

Verbal cue: 

Telling your child that you are also interested in the topic (If talking about their favorite color you can say, “I have a favorite color, too,” after they have answered and waiting for them to ask). 

Verbal prompt: 

Pointing out something they seem interested in and prompting them to talk about it (“I see you looking at your friend’s toy, maybe you can find out where he got it.” or “Oh do you see your friend is eating mac and cheese? Let’s go tell them that you like that, too!”) 

Visual cue: 

Pointing from them to yourself or to whoever they are talking to in order to give them a hint that they should ask the other person (Point to the child and pair with a verbal cue “So I know what you think,” then point to yourself or whoever they are talking to and say, “maybe you can find out what I/they think.”)  

Providing a direct verbal model of a question or answer (“Find out what my favorite color is by saying, ‘What is your favorite color?’” “If you think that show is funny, you can make a comment and say, ‘I think that’s funny.’”)   

 Related Reading: 5 Tips to Help Your Child’s Speech and Language Development

Incorporating Conversations Into Your Child’s Daily Routine

Conversations are a great way to practice pragmatic language skills. Incorporating conversations in your child’s daily routine is a great way to help them practice. When you introduce structured conversations into their day, you are helping them consistently practice their social skills. Keep in mind that showing them appropriate socials skills is just as important as practicing it with them! So, it doesn’t hurt to be extra mindful of how you reciprocate questions, take turns when talking, and stay on topic when having a conversation with the other members of the family! 

About the Author

Amanda is a Speech Language Pathology Assistant at NAPA Centre, with more than 5 years of experience working in the communicative disorders field. As a bilingual therapist, she is motivated and determined to encourage communication in any way shape or form. She enjoys eating spicy foods, binge watching shows on Netflix, and eating mochi donuts with her husband, her cat, Hendrix, and her dog, Lebowski.  

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