Your child’s speech doesn’t stop developing when they leave the speech therapy clinic. In fact, it continues even when you get settled at home.
Speech therapists recommend doing speech therapy activities at home because they’re most effective when children feel safe and secure. In fact, wherever your children go, they’ll probably prefer to stay there rather than anywhere else.
Even if you haven’t had a speech therapy appointment for them yet, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t encourage your child to speak either. These are some suggested speech activities and routines for you to practice at home.
1) Read Books or Magazines
If you want your children to learn from an early age, one of the most important things they need to know is how to read. By teaching your children to read at a young age, you’ll give them a head start before they enter school. They’ll already understand how language works and how to communicate effectively. You may be able to get them to request for their favorite books at times.
Encourage children who are already forming their own words by asking to repeat them in books when you read together. It will help them develop stronger skills over time. You’ll eventually be able to pause and skip certain words so that your child has a chance to say them for themselves.
You don’t need to restrict yourself to just books for the reading material. You might want to consider some educational and children’s magazines for additional reading time. Magazines that include lots of photos are good for sharing. You can always engage them as well by show them an image of what you’re talking about and then ask “what’s that?”
2) Play With Your Child
Believe it or not, language learning can also come through play. Learning comes with extra perks when done through an enjoyable activity. Some of these include motor skill development, improved imagination, and greater social skills without feeling pressured to talk.
Avoid battery-operated toys when choosing toys for children. To help children learn to speak, parents must provide opportunities for their kids to use their voices by playing with toys that let them produce sound. It’s especially important for children who experience speech delay. Play with toys that encourage:
- social interaction and communication
- usage of motor functions
- imagination and creativity
Flash cards and blocks are one of the most common ways to learn vocabulary. Printed images and colors on these materials prompt kids to think about words associated with them.
Your child could also use cards. They may sort the cards into groups according to different topics. For example, he/she might put animals next to each other, then fruits, then vegetables, then colors, then shapes, then numbers, then vehicles. Moving cards and blocks around will help your children develop their fine motor skills as well.
Remember to allow your children to take charge when playing games. They will learn with confidence by doing so. You’ll find them eventually starting conversations with people themselves when they play with them.
3) Use Hand Gestures and Sign Language
Around eight to nine months old, children begin to use gestures. Using gestures doesn’t negatively affect speech development; both methods (verbal and non-verbal) help develop their communication skills. It is actually quite useful for children that experience speech delay.
Start by waving hello and goodbye using hand signals. You can also reinforce actions that they love by gestures. For example, you could say “hug” and then use an arm movement like wrapping your arms around yourself to show that action.
You could also teach your child sign language if you want to go even deeper into teaching them. Try focusing on words that are easier for children to say than others, such as “more,” “help,” “please,” “thank you,” and “Mom” or “Dad.” Consider which signs would be helpful for your child.
If signs are useful for them, toddlers will be encouraged to use them every day. They may begin requesting things such as milk, blankets, or their favorite toys.
4) Singing and Rhyming
Songs and nursery rhymes can be used to teach children new vocabulary and help them learn their first few words. They stimulate a different part of the brain and will help them remember words better. You might want to consider using some classic nursery rhymes such as:
- Old MacDonald Had a Farm
- The Itsy Bitsy Spider
- Mary Had a Little Lamb
- Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Gestures accompany songs well too! It doesn’t really matter whether you’re a great singer or not; what matters most is helping your child get comfortable interacting with others.
If they know most of the song by heart, skip ahead to where you want them to start singing. Wait until they finish one line before moving onto the next. When they’re able to sing the whole song by themselves, it really gets exciting!
5) Speak Slowly and Clearly
When practicing speaking to children, slow down and speak clearly so that they learn the correct pronunciation for each word. They’ll be able to understand and learn their words properly from the get-go.
It’s important also to keep your eye contact when communicating. Making a proper facial expression when talking to them helps them understand you better, and give them something to model after.
6) Introduce New Sounds and Words
With time, toddlers do grow up and speak complex sentences. Gradually introduce new words so they don’t get too overwhelmed when trying to remember them.
With some practice, you’ll be able to point at objects and say their names without looking them directly in the eye. Saying Mommy or Daddy when pointing at the respective person works just fine and you can do similar association with other people as well.
You can also teach them new words by adding them into their vocabulary. For example, by adding the new word ‘big’ to the learned word ‘ball’, they will be able to connect these two words together. To help children learn new words, use different ways to say the same thing. For example, instead of saying “ball”, teach them by using other words together with the main word (“bouncy ball”/”red ball”)
7) Tell Them What You’re Doing
Tell them what you’re going to be doing, whether its chores or common home activities. To a young learner, the simplest thing may be completely unknown to them. You can also discuss things like how they look, taste, and feel. Listening skills will be improved by doing these activities.
Keep it brief when describing what you’re doing. Your sentences should be as short as possible without losing meaning. Repeat yourself if needed. Patience is key when teaching kids anything new, and repetition helps them remember things better.
8) Turn Off the TV
If you want to prevent toddlers from getting distracted, turn off the TV whenever they’re nearby. Just like batteries-powered toys, repetition isn’t going to be effective if your child doesn’t repeat what he hears.
TV doesn’t just affect children; it can also distract parents’ attention away from their kids. It means less time for you both to communicate together.
A study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that every additional hour of television watched by toddlers was linked to less verbalization. In the end, the study concluded that watching TV was discouraged for toddlers younger than two. Instead, they recommend focusing on creating an interactive play space for children.
Remember: children are in their best learning state when they’re interacting with real people at home.
9) Teach Them to Ask For Things
You may want to limit their requests for now. Regardless if it’s food, toys, or anything else, teach children to let you know what they want so that you can give it to them.
If you want to encourage your child to communicate, one way to go about doing so would be by putting items out of their reach. Put their toys away from where they play so they don’t get to them. They’ll ask for your assistance.
Make sure to reinforce and enhance their interactions whenever they request anything from you. If they point to an apple, for example, you can expand on it by asking “Do you want the red apple?” and add the word “red” to their growing vocabulary.
When toddlers don’t know exactly what they want, there may come a point where they need help figuring it out. To make it easier, you can give them a choice. It will also help them communicate their choice because they can repeat what you’ve just said as choices.
10) Repeat and Expand
Another way to learn vocabulary is by using repetition and expansion methods. Repetitions are important for language learners. Ask questions until he/she answers them correctly. Then repeat his/her answer again, but add something new. If your kid asks, “Where did the dog go?” You could answer by saying, “The dog ran.” “He is running really fast!”
Remember to expand sentences correctly. As we mentioned before, it’s extremely important to speak clearly so that your children understand everything they hear.
If your child uses baby words, you can let them do so at first. It doesn’t hurt to start out by using simple baby words but eventually they need to articulate those words correctly. You can say “do you want ba-ba?” if your child points at his/her bottle and repeats “ba-ba,” you can reinforce the correct term: “Here you go! Here’s your bottle.”
As soon as your child is ready to learn, he’ll be able to develop his skills better. Your house is where he feels most at ease, so take this opportunity to heart.
Speech therapists can also provide more activity suggestions that you can do at home. To find out more, get started today by contacting us!