Encourage conversation: Have regular storytelling sessions with your child. Instead of asking him a Yes or No question, think about asking open-ended, thought-provoking questions such as, “What would you do if you saw a great big cow in your backyard?” By asking questions that elicit a detailed response, you are encouraging your child to express his or her ideas without the fear of being right or wrong.
Listen, Listen, Listen: carefully. Remember that childhood game of telephone? Turns out, telephone is an excellent way to teach your child to listen to your words and relate them to another person. If you cannot remember the game, here is how you play. Have your child and friends or siblings get into a circle. One person whispers a word to the other and that person whispers that word to the next person. The goal of telephone is to end up with the same ending phrase as the starting phrase. When you children are talking to you, offer thoughtful responses so that you validate children’s language, as well as their ideas and feelings. They want to feel like they are being heard (don’t we all)?
Reading: Reading is one of the most important things you can do with your child. Ask questions about the pictures, ask your child to point to items on each page and for older children, you may ask your child to think of experiences he or she may have had that are similar. All these help your child make connections with what he or she is hearing. You may find that your child wants to read the same book time and time again. Hearing the same story over and over helps foster familiarity and security, while building language skills at the same time.
Make it FUN: Toddlers learn best when the experience is fun and interactive. Your child will not respond as well if he or she feels like the activities are “homework.” Instead, make each session of your speech therapy something your child will look forward to and will want to actively participate.
Do you have favorite speech therapy methods that you do with your kids at home? We’d love to hear your ideas!