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Developing linguistic concepts in school age children

Why you have been directed to training to
support concept development?

• To explain what a concept is
• To explain when and how children develop concept knowledge
• To explain why concepts are an important part of language and key to your child being able to access
• To schools how to help children to learn and use concept words

Concept words are important as a part of a child’s vocabulary to describe properties and ideas such as:
• Quality
• Quantity
• Time or Sequence
• Position or Location
• Personal Qualities, Emotions and Feelings
• Movement

• Help us to understand language
• Help us to develop language
• Help us to express ideas

Communication Development Pyramid:

Speech sounds

Expressive language

understanding of language


Attention and listening 

QualityColour and shape
(spot, line, round,
cross, triangle,
curved, corner,
circle, flat, straight)
size (big, heavy, long, small,
light, short, tall, thin, fat, full,
heavier, longer, large, wide,
tallest, deep, wide, narrow,
shallow, thick, wide
texture (wet, hot, dirty,
new, hard, rough, soft,
cold, dry, furry, smooth)
sound (noisy, quiet,
loudly, softly)
similarities and
differences (same
as, like, different,
QuantityNumber, equal,
quarter, half unequal
A bit, all, a lot, some, many,
another, few, most, enough,
plenty, except
Gone, more, none, less,
nearly, only, part, whole
As much as, about,
both, every, each,
several, other
Time or sequence Now, after, soon,
later, before, early
Again, never, always,
sometimes, and then
Today, yesterday,
First, last, second,
third, once, never
Position or locationOn, in, under, by, in
front of, off, beside,
next to, across
Up, down, over, through, to,
around, behind, between,
above, below, against
Outside, inside, bottom,
top, high, low, middle,
side, row
Away, near, facing,
apart, together, far
Movement Fast, slowly, quicklyStop, go, movingStill, smooth, jerkyBackwards, towards
Emotions, feelings and personal qualities Good, bad, niceHungry, thirsty, asleep,
Pretty, silly, clever, kindSad, frightened,
excited, pleased
Everyday concepts

Pre-School children typically know and use Early concepts that:

• Are object based
• Relate to what is in front of them

By Reception children typically know and use many more concepts:

• To be able to understand and follow general classroom instructions
• To support new learning – reasoning, vocabulary and topics, storytelling, developing numeracy skills

By the end of Primary School concepts become:

• Less concrete or physical
• More complex, specific and abstract

How do children learn concepts?

Why can concepts be difficult to learn?


Language Use:

• May use simplistic or immature sounding sentences
• Incorrect use of concept words
• Difficulty telling and re- telling stories and news
• Difficulty answering questions about what they read or hear

Understanding Language:

• Difficulty following instructions or knowing what order to do things in
• Difficulty following classroom routines
• Difficulty understanding stories and explanations


• Reduced access to the curriculum
• Limited educational progress

Social Situations:

• May present as quiet and withdrawn
• Difficulty fully expressing how they feel
• May have challenging behaviour

How do you choose what concept to work on?

How do I teach a concept?

General Rules for Teaching Concepts

Please refer to the attached handouts for suggestions and activities to target a range of concept words.

• Concept Milestones.docx
• Concept Checklist.docx
• Concepts Practical Ideas.docx

An adult on a chair talking to children sitting on chairs