If your child has been diagnosed with a speech or language delay, there is plenty you can do at home to reinforce the lessons they learn during their time with a speech therapist. Check out these eight ways to help your child develop language skills.
Reduce Audio Distractions
Although it may seem counter-intuitive, having the TV on or music playing are audio distractions for a child with a speech delay. Better to shut off the noise for a while, so that you and your child can talk to one another, one-on-one, with better clarity.
Encouraging a dialogue encourages speech, so it helps to talk (in short sentences) about what you’re doing, putting names on the objects you’re handling and repeating those words frequently.
Depending on your child’s age and their individual speech assessment, speak distinctly and in short, concise sentences. Model proper sentence structure, but keep it simple.
In conversation, repeat what your child says back to you so they know that you understand what has been said. Consider adding on to what they say, perhaps by using a descriptor. “You want the ball?” “Do you want the red ball?”
Use Sign Language
Researchers have discovered that using sign language helps children with speech delays learn how to communicate until their verbal skills improve. This reduces frustration that may arise from the difficulty they have making their wants and needs known. You don’t have to memorize every sign in ASL, just check out YouTube videos for some basic signs to get you started.
Make A Game Out Of Mouth Muscle Exercises
Whether your child’s speech therapist has recommended the old button-and-string pull, or frequent use of a crazy straw, try to make a game out of the exercises so they enjoy them more.
Ask Them Questions
Give them a choice between two objects and ask them to pick. Do you want grapes or strawberries? Do you want milk or juice? Ask them to identify objects for which they may already recognize the words, such as Where’s the dog? or Where’s your sister?
One of the best, and most fun, things you can do to support your child’s speech development is to play with them one-on-one. Even simple throw-and-catch games allow for an exchange of short sentences within the context of the game. Sing rhyming songs, and point out birds, trees, and other aspects of the natural world, all which help your child make the necessary language connections.