Home Tips to Boost Speech Development.
There are many different activities you and your family can do to help your child’s speech-language skills from home!
Read to your child and/or encourage them to read independently
If your child is young enough, read to them; if they are old enough, encourage them to read a variety of books within or above their current level. Reading is a great way to build language skills and develop their speech skills. By listening to you read they are able to hear how certain letters should sound, how sentences should be structured, and how a story is organized. By reading on their own, children develop understanding of dialogue, sequencing, learn to make inferences and connect ideas.
Goal Specific At-Home Support
Choose 2-3 of your child’s areas to target for at-home work. The best way to choose a target is to pick what is impacting your child and your family the most. For example: your child has a lot to say but they have a difficult time being understood due to the way they shape their /s/ sounds or /r/ sounds. Or, if your child has difficulty following directions and it is causing stress during your daily routine and family life, you may want to start there.
Avoid choosing goals that are well above your child’s age level or developmental abilities or far away from what he or she is currently able to do. If you are at a loss for what to try, contact your child’s doctor or a speech therapist to get some ideas for areas to work on at home. A speech therapist should be able to teach you tricks and give you tips to help get in that extra support at home.
If your child has a hard time saying the /s/ sound in a sentence and ends up with a /th/, start out by having them practice just the sound on its own.
Extra tips: To make a proper /s/ sound, pretend your tongue is a snake and your teeth are the bars of a cage. You need to keep the snake in the cage. /ssssss/!
Once they have just the sound down, hand them practice words with the sound. Words like cat/s/, /s/at, or to really challenge them, use a made-up or “nonsense word” like /s/og. Now that they have the hang of using this sound with other sounds, put those words into a short sentence and practice this often. If you can, try to make this phrase a common one in your household. Try something like saying, “We /s/it down to eat,” and then have them repeat it back to you. If you can make this a routine, they will get guaranteed practice in every day.
And remember, we are looking for the most important, functional sounds based on your everyday lives. So, if your child has trouble with /l/ and their name is Luke, or Lisa, or Logan, definitely work on them saying their name so they can successfully introduce themselves to someone! If they have difficulties with /r/ and they are old enough to help walk Rex and Rover, take them along! There are so many ways to practice tough sounds that you are already doing, you just have to keep an eye out for them.
If you want to teach your child how to follow multi-step directions, you could start with very basic short directions with demonstration (like “sit”, “stand up”, “come here”). Gradually work your way up to more complex directions, adding other pieces on as your child develops. Eventually, they will move through two-step directions and on to three-step directions. Example: You want your child to take off their backpack, hang it up, take off their shoes, and put them away. Start off small here with taking off the backpack and hanging it up. Then address removing and putting away their shoes. Once they have the hang of both as a part of their routine, try putting them together.
Make an open line of communication
Your child hopefully has had an evaluation with a licensed speech therapist to help you narrow down exactly what needs to be worked on both at home and in therapy sessions (If not, this would be the first step I would recommend!). Keep an open line of communication with your child’s therapist(s). They can help you learn more about what is worked on each week and how you can do some of the same things at home. I am always happy to sit down with parents and brainstorm ideas to support therapy progress at home because it makes the entire process smoother. When we work as a team your child will grow and learn faster.
Speaking of communication, check out my other post: 6 Things Your Child’s Speech Therapist Wishes You Knew.
Hopefully, some of these tips were helpful for you and your family. If you have something specific you want to learn how to work on, let me know in the comments down below! I would love to share more specific tips and tricks help you work on things at home.