As a parent, there is nothing sweeter than your little one’s words. But what if your little one appears to be struggling? She may need an assessment from a Speech-Language Pathologist, but there is also so much you can do every day at home to help. The best part is, to your child, it’s just fun.
Here are nine tips professionals recommend to help your child:
Sing, Rhyme and Read
While singing your favorite song or reading a favorite book, pause and let your child fill in actions, sounds or words. Give them lots of praise when you do it! Have fun!
Meet Them at Their Level
Communicate in ways they can mimic. When you use a few words to communicate, your child can imitate what you are saying and expand their language skills one word at a time.
Play With Them
Whether it’s dressing up, playing with toys or playing outside, children learn when they interact with their environment. Use words and ask them questions. They are learning and having fun!
Don’t Forget to Listen
Listen as much as you talk! Explain things as you go through the day, whether it’s something you see on the sidewalk or while you are cooking dinner but do it in simple and complete sentences. Then let your little one explain things to you.
Celebrate the Little Things
It takes lots of practice to learn a new skill or a new word. Celebrate each attempt and cheer them on.
It’s hard when life is busy but slowing down will give your child the chance to use their words to ask for things. Let them zip up their own zipper or pick up their own toys. Give them time to learn to do things for themselves.
Reading is one of the best ways to help your child improve speech and language skills. Point to words. Ask them questions. Make it fun!
Explore Everyday Things
Help your child learn new words through simple things. Even a meal is great chance to learn new words. Help them describe things like crunchy, sweet, hot or cold. You can even get messy while you do it.
Just Talk To Them
Sounds simple, right? But children learn through repetition. They need to hear you repeat words over and over until they learn for themselves. So, talk to them, tell them the names of things as you go through the day. They are listening and learning and, soon, they will be imitating you.
Is Your Child Hitting Developmental Milestones?
So, what do you do if you’re still concerned? The federal government has developed a chart of developmental milestones (link to our website page on Milestones) helping you to see how your child is growing and what they are doing at a certain age.
For speech and language skills, these milestones include things like smiling for the first time and how they say words and sounds.
These developmental milestones are a general idea of what to expect as children grow. Because you know your child best, you may feel like they need more help than you can give them at home. If so, talk to your doctor, who might prescribe speech and language therapy. Early intervention is key.
Keep working – and keep having fun – at home with your child. Children learn through play so talking, reading, and playing with you will be fun and beneficial for them – and for you.