Does your child have a diagnosis of speech delay? Or maybe they are just a little behind with typical speech development?
I’ve experienced both situations. My oldest C is diagnosed with speech and language delay. We noticed that by age two he really wasn’t speaking as well as he should. We were able to get him speech therapy through our local Regional Center. C’s speech has taken off and he is now at typical developing articulation. He is working on his language and still has speech therapy to this day.
Our middle son T, had a slight speech delay. We got him speech therapy through the Regional Center as well. He is now 4 years old and has graduated and no longer needs speech therapy. He still goes to speech once a week for 30 minutes. It was something that both I and his speech therapist agreed on. He is working on his language as well.
I know that some families don’t have access to speech therapy. Or maybe the speech delay is so mild that they don’t qualify.
My sister is an SLPA (Speech Language Pathology Assistant) and with her help, I came up with 10 ways that you can help your child with their speech.
1. Learn sign language –
Baby sign language is great for this. It’s easy to learn and easy to understand. There are many resources online, especially on Pinterest. I recommend the book, Baby Sign Language Basics. It’s a small book with pictures and description of the actions. It’s a great reference. I used it with all three of my kids.
2. Slow down your own speech –
We as adults tend to speak pretty fast. Too fast for little minds to catch up.
Speak clearly, carefully and slowly. Your kids will watch your mouth and will try to imitate the sounds you make.
3. Hold things up to your mouth when naming an item –
This gives your child a chance to see how you form the sound and it helps them imitate.
This is great for any time during the day when you’re communicating with your child.
An example is during meal time, hold up the food item to your face – say the word. Giving a bath, hold the sponge up to your mouth – say the word. Playing with blocks, hold the blocks up to your mouth and say the word. And so on.
Lots of opportunities for this throughout the day.
4. Name and label everything when talking –
This may seem awkward at times. But your child watches you and listens to you. Hearing words and sounds will help them recognize items and name actions.
If you’re doing something, say out loud what you’re doing. Holding something, name it. Doing an action, say out loud what you’re doing.
5. Play with your child at their level –
When playing with your child, have the child imitate you. This is important for speech, especially in very early stages. It’s called motor imitation. An example is a clap, wave, blow a kiss, pull their socks off, fly a toy plane, throw a ball, etc.
I created a printable for you with some more ideas.
Free Speech Printable
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6. Make verbal sounds while playing –
This will help your child imitate the sounds. Sounds are much easier than words for children. An example is while playing with cars, make the sound “vroom, vroom”. When playing with the phone, “ring, ring” is an appropriate sound.
I included more ideas and examples in the printable.
7. Teach your child to blow bubbles –
This is a really fun one. This helps with their oral motor skills.
It’s great practice for rounding lips. When blowing bubbles with your child, you can work on words and sounds such as “pop”, “ready, set, go!” You can also take turns with “your turn” and “my turn”, “more”, “all done”, “open”, “wipe”, “up”, “down”, “wow”
And kids LOVE bubbles. They won’t even realize they are practicing speech.
8. Use verbal routine –
You may already be doing this with your kids. When you sing songs or read the same book over and over.
An example is the book “Brown Bear, Brown Bear”. The first line is:
“Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see?”
Now after repeating this over and over, next time pause after “what do you ______” and let your child fill it in.
When your playing with your child you may use a phrase “Ready, Set, Go!” After a while pause after “set” and let your child fill in with “Go!”
“Ready, set, ______!”
9. Accent a gesture, sounds, words, or phrases –
It is important to model your child’s level of communication. If they mostly gesture, overemphasize your gestures. Another way to accent a word is to raise your voice to a higher pitch. You can also say the word in a form of a question. Instead of “bubbles, you say “bubbles??”
10. Stay silent and wait for your child’s response –
This may seem awkward at first but pause for as long as 3-4 seconds to give your child a chance to respond. Just be patient. They may not respond like you want them to, or not at all. But you need to give them a chance first. DO NOT rush in and say “say…”
11. Say the word one more time –
Whether your child says the word or not, repeat it once more and then give them the desired object.
12. Build language with layers –
Different children are on different levels of speech. Some just make vowel sounds, some are starting to combine consonants and vowels. It’s a good idea to start at your child’s level. Follow their lead and them help them move to the next level.
I will simplify the levels so they are easier to understand. There are 16 levels of the Speech Sound Hierarchy, but I will break it down to just 7.
Level 1 –
At level 1, a child can do vowels. Just the vowels of the words. Such as “oo”, “aaaa”.
Level 2 –
Next, most children will start using the beginning consonant and a vowel of a word. For example “ma” for mama or “ba” for ball.
Level 3 –
In this next level children will combine two same consonants and two same vowels. Such as “mama”, “baba” or “wawa”.
Level 4 –
In this level, the same or different consonant sound is added at the end. Many times an “eeee” sound will be added to the end as well. For example ” buddy”, “doggee”, or “mommy”.
Level 5 –
Now children can say one, three-letter or four letter words. The same or different consonant sound will be used. An example is “Dog”, “mom”, “dad”.
Level 6 –
At this level children can combine consonants. “Stop”, “pink”, “sleep” are examples of that.
Level 7 –
In this final level, children combine two words or create short phrases. Examples of this level are “no cat”, “go there”, or “more please”.
This is a lot of information! 10 Ways to help your child with speech is a great start to helping your child. The most important thing to remember is to play with your child and talk to your child!
Talk all the time even when it’s awkward!
Good luck mama, and you got this!