Do Your Own Speech Therapy For Kids!
When I first became a new mom I quickly realized that being a Speech Pathologist and a mom has it’s advantages and disadvantages. Advantages are, the access to highly engaging and vocabulary rich activities, the knowledge of speech and language development and of course therapy techniques. The disadvantages are, you feel pressure to make every moment with your child a super fun, highly engaging, vocabulary rich learning opportunity. I realized quite fast that a) I was insane! b) Removing the pressure of HAVING to make these moments absolutely perfect and just letting the moments happen created more enjoyable and engaging interactions. As a Speech Pathologist, I know that when children are engaged and having fun, they are more likely to learn! That’s not to say I didn’t have some great books and activities close by, but ultimately my son chose the activity.
Removing the pressure of HAVING to make these moments absolutely perfect and just letting the moments happen created more enjoyable and engaging interactions.
Do your own speech therapy for kids!
2 key strategies I use:
I took a step back and realized I should follow one key Speech Pathology tip, FOLLOW YOUR CHILD’S LEAD. Following your child’s lead allows you to see what your child is interested in and use language to support that activity. When children are interested and engaged, they learn. Label/comment on what they are doing/seeing in a fun/animated way. Use a variety of vocabulary (nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.).
INTERPRET! This is especially true if doing speech therapy for toddlers who have a difficult time with their words. Interpret what your child is trying to say even if his/her message is not clear. My early riser (yawn) at 13 months would wake up and say, “dun da”. At first I thought he wanted Daddy, but then realized, he wanted to go downstairs based on his gestures and his “words”. He was so excited when I said “Downstairs? You want to go downstairs?”, that he now uses these words all of the time. I interpret what he is trying to say all day, sometimes with ease and sometimes it takes a few guesses until he claps his hands and nods with excitement.
I happily follow his lead, label, comment, interpret, sing, dance, take turns, sort, draw, play and read all day long, and we both have a great time!
Remember when I said I needed to take a step back and just enjoy interacting with my son? I did. I happily follow his lead, label, comment, interpret, sing, dance, take turns, sort, draw, play and read all day long, and we both have a great time! I always spoke to him a lot ever since he was born. We read stories and I talked about the pictures. When we were out, I would point out the birds and the trees and cars, kites etc. I commented on how fast or high or how soft something was, all while out doing everyday activities.
At 18 months my son now talks and jabbers all day long! It is amazing to see his little mind develop and the words flow! Below is a list of activities we tend to do on a daily basis and some suggestions for vocabulary.
- Shape sorter (same, in, open, my turn, uh-oh it fell down, all done, shake)
- Books book books! (Don’t just simply read the words on the page. Talk about what you see on the page. Use nouns, verbs, and adjectives. Ask your child SOME questions, have them label an object, predict what will happen next.)
- Bubbles (wet, open, high, low, body parts of where to land the bubble, big, little, sticky, clean up, garbage (for putting the tissue away).
- Hockey (my son loves playing hockey!) (stick, net, high, low, fast, slow, under (puck goes under the couch).
- Go for a walk (car, truck, leaf, squirrel, bird, sky, airplane, high, flying, fast, loud).
If your child is below the level expected for his/her age for vocabulary development, these language rich tips and activities may help. More intensive, structured sessions by a Speech Pathologist in addition to everyday vocabulary rich activities may also be beneficial. For more information or tips, please visit our website.
Follow your child’s lead
Mix your teaching with regular play
Read to your child!
Interpret words your child is trying to say.
Learn more about speech therapy for kids.
Does your child have speech apraxia?
Learn what causes stuttering.
Erin is a Registered Speech Therapist and Clinical Director of Speech Kids Canada, an In-Home Speech therapy company.