Ways to build Speech/Language Skills at Home
- Reading. Reading is a great way to continue to improve both expressive and receptive language skills. Incorporating daily reading time into your schedule, even 10 minutes each day, can make a difference in your child’s language skills. If your child is not reading, you can read to them or look at a book together while you point out and name the pictures.
- Practice speech sounds. If your child has speech sound errors that they are working on correcting through speech therapy, a little bit of practice goes a long way. I always tell my parents that even just 2-3 minutes a day can make a huge difference! Try finding words that include your child’s target sounds while reading, playing, or even watching movies to help them carry over the articulation/phonological skills they are learning in the speech room.
- Social Opportunities.Social activities can help a child practice social/pragmatic skills from greetings to conversations to turn taking/good sportsmanship. Try activities like play dates, board game nights, bowling, movie nights, and other outings for children/adults of all abilities!
- Play Time. Children learn through play, and the opportunities to build on developing speech/language skills through play is not only endless but incredibly motivating for a child. Depending on your child’s level of development in this area, they will require different levels of help. To help make play time more successful, try offering toys of various types of play including cause effect, manipulatives, representational, and creative play. Cause effect toys are a great play activity for children who may be younger or just learning how to play. Manipulative toys include puzzles, legos, and building toys. Try puzzles with knob-handled pieces or large duplo blocks for younger children or children who have fine motor challenges. Representational toys include toy cars, dollhouse/people, and other sets where the toy represents the same real life items. Creative play can include dress up items, imagination games, and arts/crafts activities. For younger children, you can also rotate toys each week to help keep interest in play higher.
- Narrate and Ask Questions. Continue to talk about what you are doing while you are doing it when you are at home or on vacation. Talk about your day and ask your child about theirs. (Try to ask open ended questions instead of yes/no to get more language out of older children!) Describing tasks as we are doing them also helps a child who is listening continue to grow their language and vocabulary.
- New experiences = New vocabulary. When visiting new places, whether on a family adventure or even at places like the grocery store, point out items to your child that may be unfamiliar to them or encourage them to have an active role while out and above. This allows them to grow their semantic network (linking meaning to new words) and vocabulary.
- Involve your children in kitchen activities. The kitchen provides so many opportunities to learn and practice vocabulary, language, sequencing, and safety.