Developing Speech and Language Skills at Home
Home with your child more?… Now is a perfect time to work on developing speech and language skills! Incorporating certain activities into your child’s daily routine is simple, easy and very effective! Some parents feel as if developing speech and language skills must be a formal process of providing worksheets or setting aside a specific time each day to directly address certain skills. However, there are easy ways that are more successful in developing language and understanding when you engage your child during already established routines (such as mealtime, bedtime, bath time, play, etc.). No matter the age of your child, these activities can be adapted for all skill levels. Just remember to have FUN!
1. Describe what you see
- Verbalize and talk more often and with greater depth, describing what’s going on around you, and wondering out loud.
- Instead of asking your child a bunch of questions try making comments and describe what you see.
- Say: “We’re dumping sand into this big, green bucket.”
- Instead of saying: “Are you pouring sand?”
- Say: “Wow! That’s a big, blue circle!”
- Instead of saying: “What color is that circle?”
2. Describe the activity
- “Your car is so fast! My car is slow. My car can beep the horn and go under the bridge. Let’s have a race with our cars.”
- Your child will learn many words and concepts/ideas when you describe your shared experiences.
- For younger kids, pointing is an important part of communicating. You can model pointing anywhere. It’s helpful to pair the pointing with a verbal label.
- “Look! A big dog!”
- “Police car! It’s so loud! Wee-ooh-wee-ooh!”
2. Give choices
- Giving choices empowers children but also allows you to maintain control of the tasks.
- “You can wear your boots or your sneakers. Which pair of shoes would you like to wear?”
- “Would you like some strawberries or blueberries?”
- “We can go outside and play on your bike or play with chalk?”
3. Talk about, describe and compare objects
- Watermelons are so much bigger than oranges! Watermelons are heavy and round. We have to peel this orange before we can eat it.
- Give the child a banana unpeeled. Wait and look at your child expectantly. “Oh, you want me to peel it? You say, ‘peel banana.’ I’m peeling the banana!”
- Talk your inner monologue out loud.
- Let your child hear your process. This will help them to develop logic, reasoning, problem solving and more advanced language skills.
- “I wonder how we will get all of these bags of groceries from the car into our house. They are too heavy to carry all at once. Let’s get a wagon.”
5. Make connections from the books you read together to compare what is going on in your own life
- Talk about similarities and differences when you can.
- Become a play-by-play announcer
- Talk about what your child is doing in the moment:
- “You’re building a tall tall tower!”
- “You’re mixing blue and red paint. Hey, that looks like purple! Red and blue mixed together make purple!”
- When engaging in parallel-talk, you can interpret your child’s actions:
- “You’re pointing to the bookshelf. I see the truck up there! Do you want the truck? Tell me, ‘truck.’ You say, ‘truck.’ ‘truck.’”
7. Repetition, repetition, repetition is the way to learn and hold on to new words.
- For example, if your child is working on his/her use of the word “is,” then incorporate that into their play and during daily routines:
- “Let’s introduce our babies to one another. Here is Rosie. Rosie is a girl. Casper is a boy. Here is Rascal. Rascal is a dog.“
- Cue your child to finish your sentence. Repeat it several times… repetition is key!
- All children learn by imitating! Imitation is an important part of teaching and learning. For many children, mutual imitation (i.e., going back and forth imitating each other’s sounds, facial expressions, movements) is the most significant form of sustained social-interaction that they can achieve. When you imitate your child, for example, following his/her lead with a toy they are playing with, you are demonstrating focused attention on your child. By reflecting his/her actions, you can experience a wow moment of connectedness and fun! The next time your child picks up a musical toy and bangs on it, join in and imitate his/her sounds and rhythms. Remember to pause and wait for your child to continue.
- For many parents, letting go of your own control and allowing your child to lead can be a new and difficult concept. But don’t forget — practice makes perfect! You do not need to be the director of your child at every moment, especially during play. Take a step back and see what your child can show you. When you imitate your child, you are showing them that “I’m doing what you’re doing” and this sets the stage for him/her to then imitate you.
9. Have FUN!
- Don’t forget to be playful and imaginative with your kids. Kids love it when adults act silly and make mistakes. So how about next time you head out of the house with your child, leave your shoes behind and walk a few steps out the door…
- “Oh silly me, I walked out of the house without my shoes!”
- See if they even notice! If they don’t, try this again another day and see if you can prompt them to pay attention to your mistake. By mixing up a routine, you’re allowing your child to notice and make a comment. Give your child a fork with ice cream, wait, while looking at your child to see if and how they respond to this scenario?
- “OH my goodness, I gave you a fork instead of a spoon. Oops, silly me! It is hard to eat ice cream with a fork isn’t it?”
Don’t forget… It is NEVER too early to find out if your child could benefit from speech and language services. The earlier the better! We encourage you to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have. We are here for you and your family!