We are passionate about helping children improve their communication. Here are the top 5 ways you can help improve your child’s speech:
1.) Talk to Yourself
This might not feel normal, but describing or narrating your daily activities as you do them is a great way to give your child language models: “washing clothes,” “cutting apples,” “more water,” “train going in,” “shoes on,” etc. If your child is producing one-word utterances, then keep your “self-talk” to one or two words or just slightly more complex than their speech.
2. Give Choices
Give your child choices for everything without “yes/no” questions. Water or milk? Carrots or apples? Blue or red? Up or down? Fast or slow? In or out?, Rather than “Do you want juice?” Giving your child the opportunity to say other words besides “yes or no” encourages speech development. Your child may respond with a word approximation or just a vowel sound (“Eh-oh” for “yellow”). That is ok. They may not like it at first, but they will learn that they need to at least produce a sound to get the desired object.
One of the best ways to encourage speech is to pair “fill-in-the-blank” phrases with actions. For example: “Ready, set, ____” “GO!” and running. Repetitive songs or books: “The cow says ____”. And daily routines: “Thank ____” “Good ____” and common actions: “All (done),” “Go (home).)
Music can be used to promote many different areas of language development, such as listening skills, vocabulary development, memory and creativity among young children. Some of the best songs are simple songs that use repetitive words and phrases, songs that encourage movement, and songs with the same theme or that you are teaching the child (i.e. body parts, actions, etc.). At Jenny’s we believe in using research-based music therapy to help motivate children to produce more speech sounds and phrases.
5. Follow Your Child’s Lead
Letting your child direct playful interactions can spur interaction and help focus their attention, especially for the active child. It is as important as waiting for the child to make a speech attempt before giving them their desired object.
This list does not replace therapeutic or medical treatment. If you are concerned about your child’s development, consult your pediatrician, neurologist, audiologist, or specialist.