Practicing Speech at Home

When working with very young children who are delayed in communication skills, a common (and very good) question parents ask is, “How can I help at home?” Here are some simple ways you can help your child with his or her communication skills outside of speech therapy.

Receptive Language is the ability to understand what is being said. There are many ways to challenge and build your child’s understanding of speech. 

  1. Encourage listening skills by drawing attention to sounds in your environment. Play off of your child's curiosity and have him/her find out who/what is making the sound.
  2. Pair actions with words and use repetition. While washing hands, label the action by saying, “wash, wash, wash” or while playing with a car, label the movement by saying, “go, go, go”.
  3. While looking at picture books, ask the child to point to familiar objects. You could say, “Show me the dog”. If your child doesn’t get it right, you could take their hand and place it over the dog and say, “Dog. Here is the dog!”
  4. Use parallel talk throughout your day; act like a narrator. Name objects, talk about what you are doing, and describe what you see. 
  5. Challenge your child by giving him/her simple, routine directions. For example, “Go get your shoes!”
  6. Exposure is key. Talk to your child all day long!

Expressive Language is the ability to express our wants/needs and make comments. It is common for expressive language to be a little more delayed than receptive language, but with these easy tips, you can encourage your child to communicate clearly.

  1. Respond and praise any and all tries! Even if what your child said isn’t a true word, praise them by saying, “good talking!” or “good trying!” We never want to discourage a child from trying.
  2. Practice imitation skills. You could start with movements and have your child practice imitating clapping or rolling a ball.
  3. Turn taking is a very important part of expressive language. Teach your child how to take turns through games. For example, say “my turn” and “your turn” as you take turns pushing a car down a ramp.
  4. Expand on what your child says. If he/she says “Uh oh,” you could say, “Uh oh! The cup fell down.”
  5. Try not to anticipate everything your child wants without giving them a chance to tell you.
  6. Model, model, model! Your child is paying close attention and soaking up everything you do and say.

The great thing about speech and language is that it is everywhere all the time! All you need to do is help bring awareness to it. Use your words and actions as examples, and keep encouraging your child! 

Kayla Amberger, M.S., CF-SLP