10 Ways to Support Speech and Language Development at Home
What makes us all human is the ability to communicate both verbally and nonverbally, but this does not develop on its own. Research has consistently shown that good speech and language skills have tremendous impact on educational attainment and that supporting a child's speech and language development is crucial to future success both academically and socially. Speech and language therapists help parents learn simple and effective ways to help children learn to understand and use words effectively in natural contexts. This article will provide simple, yet, effective ways to help your child develop their speech and language skills at home in natural contexts like shopping, eating lunch and playtime.
WHY ARE SPEECH AND LANGUAGE SKILLS SO IMPORTANT?
Children need to be able to express their wants, needs and ideas. Building these skills early on creates the building blocks for communication. A lack of appropriate communication skills may have a tremendous impact on children socially, academically and emotionally.
Socialising is a major aspect of a child's development. The key to forming friendships with peers, teachers, parents and siblings depends on good communication skills. Children need to be able to attend, listen, understand and respond to others. Children who lack the foundational speech and language skills may have difficulty sharing, cooperating, following directions or talking clearly to ask for a turn.
FOUNDATIONS FOR LEARNING
Speech and language skills provide a baseline for learning about the world we live in. and are the foundation for academic success. The more developed a child's speech and language skills are the easier it will be for them to succeed in the classroom. In school, children are expected to listen to stories, share experiences, talk about words, follow directions, complete assignments, read and write. The demands placed on children is tremendous and we must give our children the best foundation for learning in order for them to succeed and grow.
HOW CAN I SUPPORT MY CHILD'S SPEECH AND LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT AT HOME?
Learning to understand language and talk is a process that relies on several underlying skills that parents can support from birth.
establish eye contact with your child when speaking
exaggerate sounds in words and have your child focus on your mouth
sing songs (some of my favorites are "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" and Old MacDonald had a Farm") check out speechplaylove.com for their top picks!
read books (repetitive books like, "Brown Bear Brown Bear" by Eric Carle are especially helpful!) check out speechsisters.com for their choices!
use gestures to support communication
model speech and language
talk slowly, clearly and make your mouth BIG!
accept any form of communication from your child (gestures, body language and words!)
create a stress free environment (refrain from asking too many questions and putting your child "on the spot")
narrate play and functional activities (talk about what your are doing while doing it!)
play with a variety of toys and models actions and language
be animated and make your interactions fun!
If you suspect that your child's speech and language skills are not developing as they should reach out to Universal Speech Therapy for a FREE consultation or screening with an ASHA certified speech language pathologist.