With the Fall season upon us, and children settling back into the school routine it is nice to have some fresh ideas on how to incorporate developmental goals into our daily lives. Here are some tips on how to turn everyday events into opportunities for speech and language development.
Before reading, keep in mind a couple things:
- These are just suggestions, some may work well for some families and not others. Do what works for you; remember it is meant to be fun.
- No pressure! If these activities fit well into your life, GREAT! If not, then don’t worry! Enjoy the time you have with your family!
- This article is not intended to be an alternative to professional consultation or clinical recommendation. If you have any concerns with your child’s speech and language development contact your local Speech and Language Pathologist.
With School Back in Session, here are 8 Tips to Help Improve Speech Development:
This may be seemingly obvious, but in a world of technology and screens, good old-fashioned books can often fall by the wayside. Reading is a wonderful way to promote language development. Among other things, books can introduce new sentence structures, vocabulary and grammar. Remember, reading a book or novel to your child or having your child read independently are both great opportunities to take advantage of all books have to offer. Repetitive books such as “Dear Zoo” and “Goodnight Moon” are great for younger children to participate in completing the sentences. Novel series such as Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings can be fun to read aloud as they appeal to a broad age range.
At times life can seem so busy that we forget to sit down and listen to one another. Try building in some time each day, to tell one another a story about something that happened that day. You can use your story to model to your child different ways to tell others about an event. For example, maybe one day you sequence the day using vocabulary such as “First, I…, Next I… and Lastly I…” and the next day you tell a story using lots of adjectives “It was really sunny and warm when I went outside, I could smell that the grass had just been cut.” Make sure everyone has a turn to tell his or her story, uninterrupted and alternate who gets to go first.
Children learn so much by watching and listening to their parents. If you have younger children who are still learning to say all of their speech sounds, try modeling and emphasizing how to use those sounds in your own speech. Put stress on the sound you are focusing on (for example: “I ssssee the ssssnow”. Remember, that there is no demand for the child to repeat the sound correctly; you are just exposing them to what the goal is in the end. If you are unsure if your child’s speech is developing appropriately, talk to a Speech and Language Pathologist. Remember that not all sounds are supposed to develop at the same time.
This is another oldie but goodie. Games such as “I spy” and “20 questions” can be a great way to get your child talking. You are providing a clear model of the language they can use when you take your turn. Games such as these also work on turn taking and listening skills.
Who doesn’t love to check something off a list? (I hope this isn’t just me!) Have your child help you with daily tasks by making a list together! Grocery shopping, cooking and baking are great opportunities for this. Once the list is made, your child can participate in the activity by holding a clipboard and pen and checking things off the list. Not only is this a good way to keep kids preoccupied while you get things done, but it also promotes functional skills and can encourage reading.
Let’s call a spade a spade, TV happens! It is a part of daily life (sometimes a very necessary part). And while sitting down to watch a favourite program or movie is a nice way to relax as a family, it can also be an opportunity to have some fun! Before you start a movie, have one person talk about what they think the movie might be about, or how the movie might end. Other family members can then say if they agree or disagree. At the end of the movie you can see who was right, talk about if you liked the movie or not and why, and say if you would change anything about it. If you are not watching the film or show with your child (or if you are watching Frozen for the 100th time), then have them summarize what happened for you. This promotes sequencing information as well as prediction and reasoning skills. If your child is not yet able to summarize, then go through the “wh-questions” (who, what, where, when, why, how) to get them thinking.
There is always lots to see and talk about when your mix up the environment. You can incorporate this into a game as well by making a scavenger hunt! (Hint: this goes hand in hand with making lists!) Give your child a list of things to find outside. Remember to leave a couple of blank spaces where you can add something you didn’t expect to find.
Never underestimate the importance of learning social skills from a young age. Children learn so much from their peers. Having friends around allows your child to practice his/her language skills in a low-pressure environment. It also encourages opportunities for learning to problem solve, share and compromise. Resist the urge to plan out every activity. Have some options (ex. Bubbles, construction materials etc.) And then let the kids experiment and explore while playing.
Remember, Speech and Language Pathologists can provide you with lots of information not only on speech and language development, but also feeding, stuttering, literacy, behaviour management and lots more. If you have any concerns or want any advice specific to your child, get in contact with your friendly neighbourhood Speech and Language Pathologist.