Every child develops speech and communication skills at his or her own pace. To help in the development, as a parent, it is quite appropriate that you start engaging in speech exercises at home with your little ones while indulging in different play activities. Here, we give below a few speech pathology techniques that you can try at home to develop and improve your child’s speech skills.
Why speech therapy?
Speech therapy helps in improving an individual’s communication skills. It helps reduce stammering, improves voice, articulation, language and communication.
Speech therapy also helps to
- Develop socialization skills
- Improve oro motor and feeding skills
- Enhance self-esteem and independence
What are the top 5 techniques used by speech therapists?
Below are the 5 most popular techniques used by speech therapists for improving speech and language skills in children:
In this technique, you add one additional detail to your child’s existing vocabulary to make it a grammatically correct short sentence or a phrase. For example, if your child is saying “chocolate”, you can say, ” I want chocolate”. Go one at a time, encouraging your child, but never forcing them to repeat.
In extension, you add one extra detail to what your child is presently saying and extend it further with an additional connected information. For example, if your child is saying, “car “, you can say, “big car” or “beautiful car” or “red car” so that an additional information is added to the child’s utterance.
- Parallel talk:
In parallel talk, you describe what your child is doing, in a way that you expect them to say. This activity helps them to relate their actions to the words they hear. Go slow, and use phrases or sentences depending on your child’s age and speech skills.
If your toddler is eating a mango, you may say,
“Oh, Appu is eating a mango, it is a yellow mango, it is very yummy.
If your toddler is pointing at the chocolate, you may say
“Oh Appu wants a chocolate? You want me to open this for you?’
- Self talk:
In self talk, describe your actions in a simple language your child can follow. Narrate what you are touching, seeing, smelling, etc. Remember to use short sentences.
For example, if you are colouring a picture, you can say,
“Here’s a flower picture. Here are the crayons. I take the red colour crayon. I am colouring it. I am colouring and colouring and colouring it fully. All done!”
Use this technique for short spans and observe if your child is interested and is following. You can start by describing the activities your child loves the most. It can help enrich your child’s vocabulary and comprehension skills.
In this technique, you model the expressive language you want your child to develop – be it a sound, word, phrase or a sentence structure. For example, in modeling articulation, if your child is saying ‘pan’ for ‘fan’, bring your child’s attention to your face and ask him/her to watch how you say it.
In all the above techniques, the idea is not to force the child to repeat after you, but to ensure they are listening and taking it all in.
Can we do speech therapy ourselves?
If you have a concern about your child’s speech skills, and have access to speech therapy near you, there is no reason to do it alone at home. Seek the advice of a qualified speech and language pathologist who can guide you on speech techniques most suitable for your child.
Speech therapy programs are also available online. In online program, parents are trained on different speech therapy techniques to practise with their child.
When planning on speech therapy at home, keep in mind your child’s temperament, age and ability to focus, and choose activities in consultation with your child’s speech therapist.
How can we do speech therapy at home?
Here are a few simple strategies to follow while doing speech therapy at home:
- Reduce screen time: Trade screen time with play time. Screen time delays your child’s language development and can cause negative impacts on their communication skills. Indian Paediatrics Association (IPA) and World Health Organization (WHO) suggests no screen time for kids below 2 years. The best way to teach and develop your child’s speech is by modeling it directly to them.
- Simplify: Use words that are simple and easy to follow. Use short phrases and sentences.
- Positioning: Get down to your child’s eye level. This can make a lot of difference in ensuring your child’s attention. Make sure that your child can see your mouth and how you produce the sound/word as this will encourage your child to imitate.
- Be attentive & Be patient: Pay attention, be patient and wait for your child to speak while practising. Stay calm. You can use phrases like, “I’m listening, take your time”. And listen naturally when your child responds. Do not make your child insecure by focusing too much. When you push your child, it can trigger anxiety and can make things worse.
- Positive Reinforcement: Appreciate your child’s efforts every time he/she makes attempts to learn. Positive reinforcement for every successful attempt by way of clapping, tokens, stickers, verbal praise increases the possibility of repeating the success again.
- Sound Modulation: Intonations add music to our expressions. The rise and fall in your pitch will attract and make your child more attentive to what you are saying. Avoid monotonous speech when you are with your child. It can make the whole activity boring and uninteresting.
- Be a child with your child: Become a child when you are with your child. A child’s happiness knows no bounds when you become one like them. Their involvement in the activity will be multifold and this makes the play and learning more interesting for your child.
Speech therapy activities you can do at home
- Play games: Playing games with your child can make the learning activity more interesting. Play games that involve identifying objects, describing items or asking questions.
You can also encourage pretend play to develop and expand your child’s language skills. For example, you can suggest using your child’s toy phone to make a call to daddy or you can join alongside your child to feed her favourite doll using a spoon. Children tend to imitate adult language during pretend play and this makes it a great tool to develop communication skills.
- Shared Reading: Reading to your child helps to improve his/her language skills. Start reading to your child as early as you can. Research suggests that earlier the exposure, more positive the impact as your child grows. Infants enjoy your voice modulations and facial expressions.
If your child is too young to read, encourage them to point, name the object in the picture or allow them to describe what they see in the images. Elaborating further on their words and expressions improves your child’s language skills, vocabulary and develops interest in reading. It also helps in developing auditory attention. If your child can read, encourage them to read back to you.
- Flashcards: Using flashcards can help your child focus on the words or sounds they are learning. Creating play activities with flashcards can make the learning more entertaining.
For example, you can put the flashcards in a box and ask your child to pick one. You can also bury flashcard in sandbox and ask your child to find it. As your child picks it, say the word or sound in the flashcard and make your child repeat. You can create your own short rhyme and action to go with the sound or word. Reward your child when he/she completes the activity successfully. If your child loves moving around, you can also create a scavenger hunt using flashcards.
- Mirror talk: Ask your child to stand in front of the mirror and observe how their mouth moves when they utter a specific sound. Demonstrate the differences and say every sound slowly and correctly for them to follow. Mirror talk helps if your child has problem understanding movement of mouth for formation of clear sounds.
- Repetition: Children love repetition. Repetition helps in learning and practising new skills. When your child is learning a new word, use it multiple times during play and everyday activities. This not only facilitates practice but also helps in grasping the meaning, comparing with similar words and learning. While learning, if your child repeats with an error, you can model the word correctly for the child to repeat again.
Make the change happen!
Speech therapy activities at home can be fun and interesting, tying bonds with your child further. But remember, a delay in child’s speech may be just short-term, or sometimes, it may be the first signs of serious developmental concerns underneath. If you have a concern about your child’s speech skills, never hesitate or delay to seek advice of a qualified speech therapist. They can help ease the tension off your shoulders.
If you have a query or would like to consult our speech therapist, contact our team for an appointment.