The HOW of Wh- Questions

Enrichment Therapies

February 26, 2019

A quick start guide for working on answering wh- questions with your child.

Does your child or a child you work with struggle to respond to questions appropriately or even at all? It’s not uncommon for children with language deficits to not have the words required to form an answer or the comprehension to understand the question in the first place. You may have a child that just looks at you blankly when you ask a question or give a response that leaves you thinking “Where on earth did that come from?”

So HOW do we teach the understanding of these questions and the ability to give answers that make sense?

First, we have to know at what age we would expect most children to be able to provide answers to different question types. 

Then we have to assess our child’s ability to answer these question types and see in what areas they would benefit from some practice. You can do this by starting at the beginning and asking them 10 of each type of question and then calculating a percentage. If they can answer 80-100% of the questions right, you can consider those question types good to go. Otherwise, it’s time to get to work!

How to Target Questions

Structured Tasks
Use a set of picture cards to target the same question type. You can purchase cards or make your own. You might use pictures of action words to target “what’s…doing?” questions. Just point to each picture and ask, “What is he/she/they doing?” Because this task is repetitive and provides visual support, it is usually where I start.

Book Reading
Books are great resources for wh- questions. Select a book that lends itself well to the question type you are targeting. For example, I use Pete the Cat Rocking in My School Shoes to target “where” questions. Pete goes to different places and rooms at school and the book repetitively asks, “Where is Pete?”

Work on generalization by asking questions during playtime. You could hide items and ask “Where is the ball?” Or you could have animals or people doing actions to ask “What’s…doing?” questions. Be creative and have fun with it!

How to Provide Prompt Support (so they can be successful!)

Use the prompting hierarchy from my previous blog post here to help you provide the least amount of support your child needs to be successful!


Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center has locations in the Iowa City, IA area and Des Moines, IA area. We provide individual speech-language therapy and tutoring as well as offering small group academic programs.  At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center our passion is to help kids achieve effective communication skills and gain academic success.  Contact us for more information on how we can help your child succeed.

740 Community Drive, Unit A

North Liberty, IA 52317


5530 West Pkwy, Suite 300

Johnston, IA 50131


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