Parenting Tips to Help Develop Speech and Language in Young Children – Speech Matters – September 2010
By Cheryl D. Lindsay, M.S. SLP
In the last two columns, milestones were presented for parents who may be concerned about their child’s speech and language development.
There are many ways in which parents, grandparents and caregivers can help encourage good communication.
A speech-language pathologist will look at several areas of development when assessing a child. The tips shared below have therefore been divided into categories:
- Make eye contact. Communication is more effective when talking face to face.
- Encourage turn taking by playing games.
- Use your child’s name often.
- Use gestures with words.
- Give your child time to answer questions.
- Allow your child a chance to make a verbal request instead of anticipating what they want and giving it to them.
- Give choices and show interest in their choices to encourage self-confidence.
- Let them talk to family members on the phone.
- Describe your daily activities as you go along. For example, “I’m drying you with a big blue towel”.
- Don’t interrupt your child when he/she is speaking.
- Encourage your child to follow directions starting with one step directions: “Tidy-up time”, and then progressing to two or more steps.
- Read books. Start with simple picture books. Help label items by pointing. Encourage interaction and echo reading. When your child starts to read, don’t always correct mistakes. Let them use pictures to formulate their own sentences and to anticipate what happens next. It is valuable to read the same books over and over again to help understanding. Allow invented reading. They feel like they are reading even when they have memorized the text. Talk about first sounds and letters in words.
- Sing songs – most include rhyming and repetition, which in turn, helps comprehension.
- Label items in your house by naming them or even labeling them in print, at their level.
- While riding in the car, sing songs, point out and name familiar objects or signs.
- Look in a mirror together and locate and name body parts.
- Talk to your child often.
- Speak simply, slowly, clearly, and turn to face your child.
- If words are mispronounced model back the correct pronunciation without being negative. If your child says, “Are we going in the tar?”, you may respond, “Yes, we are going in the car.” Use a calm, positive tone of voice.
- Don’t constantly correct your child’s speech. They may become hesitant to talk.
Overall, it is important to remember to have fun, be a good model, and show enthusiasm when communicating with your child.
(Next month: “School Readiness: Speech and Language are Important Components”)