A speech therapist’s job doesn’t end after a speech therapy session. In reality, one of the most important aspects of speech therapy is educating parents and caregivers on strategies they can use to improve their child’s speech and language skills at home, which is why we always provide additional tips to work outside of our clinic.
Below are some effective speech therapy strategies that you can incorporate into your child’s daily routine.
1. Offer choices
Providing choices for your child to model what the child could say. For instance, you can ask your child, “Do you want to wear the red dress or the blue dress?” Giving your child options will encourage them to make requests using language. Offering choices for what the child might want provides a model of the words, but also makes the child feel included in decision making. Children can be more likely to answer these questions when they feel as if they have some control in the decision making.
2. Keep Play Interesting and Fun
Child’s language development needs can be a sure way of increasing language. You can be animated, use silly voices and facial expressions to keep your child engaged. Being silly during play will not only increase your child’s engagement but it can increase social communication by encouraging eye contact, initiation and imitation.
3. Eliminate Distractions
Children learn through play. It is important to limit distractions during focused play with your child, especially when you are trying to model language and encourage speech. Studies have shown that background distractions can limit your child’s speech development because they lower the quality of your interactions. Parents can reduce distractions and increase the quality of interactions with their children by turning off devices, getting on the child’s level and letting them lead in a play scheme.
4. Follow Their Lead
While playing with your child, try letting them lead. Allow them to choose the toy/activity and follow with the play scheme that they introduce. You can imitate their play while providing language. Model sound effects and narrate what your child is doing. This allows the child to hear what they could say, without providing any demands or restrictions.
5. Functional Words First
Focus on modeling and emphasizing functional words first. Functional words include words we use in our daily life or “core” words (i.e., eat, drink, more, likes/dislikes, names of people and favorite toys). Oftentimes, parents focus on “academic” words (i.e., shapes, letters, numbers, labels) before they begin to focus on core words. These “academics” are not helpful in having your child’s needs and wants met. Focusing on simple action words and making requests can allow your child to acquire functional language.
As you play with your child and go about daily routines, be sure to remember these strategies. Most strategies can be incorporated into play, chores and daily routines. It is important to note that your child will benefit from short, regular opportunities to practice language skills. Sometimes 15 minutes everyday can be much more impactful than a longer duration all at once sporadically, especially for young children. If you believe your child may have a language delay or is not meeting typical milestones, you can seek out support from specialists offering speech therapy near you, like Milestone Therapy Group. Our therapists work first-hand with parents and caregivers to provide education and resources to promote your child’s language development.