Personal Narrative Retell Skills – What are they and how does it affect my child?

“Children tell each other many forms of narrative … but more than half of their conversational narratives concern real personal experiences” Preece, 1987

Personal Narrative skills refers to the ability to share a story or event that occurred to others. These are skills that are important for school, work and home. 

Children use personal narrative skills when they:

  • Want to share something that has happened,
  • When they are in conversation,
  • At school to respond to things learnt in the curriculum.

Why are personal narrative skills so important?

Personal narratives are used functionally multiple times in everyday life. These skills play a critical role in the development of discourse, literacy and socialisation. Building social connections and developing and maintaining friendships is an important part of both childhood and adulthood. If a child has difficulty with personal narrative retells it may impact their ability to connect and share with their peers. Creating and maintaining long lasting friendships as they age may therefore become difficult. 

What can a speech pathologist do to help?

Speech Pathologist’s can assess your child’s strengths and weaknesses in terms of their expressive and receptive language skills. Functional language skills, such as constructing a personal narrative, can also be assessed to determine age appropriateness. Therapy to develop narrative and expressive language skills, as well as social skills, supports the development of personal narrative skills. 

How can you practice Personal Narrative skills at home?

  • Use visuals to discuss one or two events that have happened recently, or that your child can remember vividly (special events).

  • Use who, what, when, where, why and how questions to help your child ‘build’ their story.

  • Ask your child about what they were thinking & how they felt.  If it’s hard – give them examples of what you might have done in the same situation.

  • You can also use a whiteboard to ‘draw’ the story out.

  • Don’t evaluate or correct your child’s story – ‘pull’ the story out with open ended questions or comments.

When to see a speech pathologist

Children should see a speech pathologist early if there are concerns surrounding their ability to share stories from their day. If you have any concerns about your child’s personal narrative development, please contact us at [email protected] or on 3265 4495. 

Georgia West