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Speech Tips

Tips for working with your child at home:

0-12 months old:

  • Talk to your baby when you’re washing, dressing, or feeding him/her
  • Use your baby’s name when talking to him/her
  • Use simple, lively phrases
  • Copy your baby’s sounds and actions (sighs, facial expressions)
  • Use a lot of facial expressions as you interact with your baby

Speech Therapy: It’s Play Time

Play is a child’s ‘work’. Most of the learning a child does is through play activities. During play, many communication skills are learned and can be practiced. It is useful to:

  • Take turns
  • Make eye contact
  • Use gestures and body language
  • Label actions and objects
  • Repeat words over and over again
  • When rolling or throwing a ball, require the child to request more.
  • When stacking blocks, require the child to request more blocks.
  • When playing with cars, require that the child requests the car
  • When the child would like something to eat or drink, require that they ask for it
  • When knocking down blocks, require that the child requests more crashing
  • When singing, stop in the middle of the song and require the child to request more singing.
  • When playing horsie (rocking the child on your leg), stop and require the child to request more.
  • When riding bikes outside, stop pushing your child and require him to request to go more.
  • When playing a game, require your child to request more before he can have another turn.
  • When reading a familiar book, stop in the middle and require your child to request more book before you continue.
  • When reading a book, require that your child requests to turn the page
  • When blowing bubbles, require your child to request more bubbles.
  • When coloring, require your child to request a new color or more paper.
  • When playing a tickling game, stop tickling your child and require that they ask for more.
  • When listening to music, pause it and require your child to request more.
  • When reading familiar books, or singing familiar songs, pause when you get to a repeated line or word and see if the child will fill in the blank.
  • When engaged in a familiar activity or routine, violate the routine or do something foolish, so that the child will comment and redirect you. For example, when getting ready to go, tell the child, “We need to go to the garage and get into the boat.” If the child doesn’t recognize the mistake, encourage the child to correct you by saying, “Oh my goodness, I said boat, we’re not going to drive a boat– what are we going to drive?”
  • When your child wants to play, show him the toys he could play with and require him to make a choice.
  • When your child asks for more of something, such as colors, blocks, videos, or cars, show him two videos, for example, and require him to make a choice.
  • When your child wants something to eat or drink, show him two things he could eat or drink and require him to make a choice.

Your child’s therapist uses play as a medium in which to enhance the way language is understood and expressed. You can use some of the same techniques they use in therapy to help your child expand their language at home:

  1. Planned Stupidity— You essentially “play dumb” and pretend not to understand what your child is trying to say. This encourages your child to revise his/her communication and use multiple modes of expressive communication.
  2. Choice Making— Give your child options during activities. Let him/her choose between two toys or choose between snack foods, etc.
  3. Repetition and Expansion— When your child makes a request or statement, repeat what they indicated and expand upon it. For example, if the child points to juice, point to the juice and say juice and sign juice. This will show the child what he or she did to get the juice and it will also give them examples of other ways to communicate juice.
  4. Developing Routines— Play games and make up routines (singing songs, reciting rhymes, setting the table, getting dressed, etc.). When your child is familiar with the routine, the routine can be changed. For example, when setting the table put the plates on and then ask the child to put the placemats on the table. If the child does not recognize that this is silly and communicate this, than show them how to say that was silly, i.e., point at the plate under the placemat and laugh or say, “Oh my gosh where are we going to put the food?”.

*When communicating with children with expressive language delays be sure to accept any form of communication, i.e., pointing, gesturing, pantomiming, signing, pointing to representational pictures or speaking. Be sure to encourage any form of communication. This will allow the child to practice communicating, even when they don’t have the skills to communicate with words. Always expand upon what the child is saying and give them models of other means to communicate such as signing or speaking.

If your child has articulation delay, meaning that they have trouble making certain speech sounds, it is helpful to:

  • Be a good listener– Pay attention to what your child is saying. Not how they are saying it. Constant correcting can make a child feel badly about speaking. It’s okay for them to make mistakes.