As many families embark on the unknown by schooling their children this fall, it can be especially overwhelming for parents of children with communication delays or disorders. By thinking creatively, families can embed speech and language skills seamlessly into their curriculum and routines.
There are many strategies you can implement in the home for children even as young as 12 months:
- Toy rotations allow your little one to explore a limited selection of toys for an extended period of time. Plus, it limits clutter!
- Singing songs throughout the day is an easy way to increase language exposure and aid in transitioning from activities and routines.
- Cause and effect toys are great ways to create language opportunities. Children can practice words such as “more,” “go,” “stop,” “on,” “off” and “like."
- Sound play is foundational for speech and language development. Be extra noisy and silly when playing with toys or when playing people games like peek-a-boo. Gain your child’s attention when producing sounds, which may be more difficult for them to say.
For school-aged children, there are plenty of opportunities to foster creativity and independence while supporting problem-solving skills:
- Encourage creative activities such as arts and crafts. Many language concepts can be incorporated, such as prepositions and adjectives.
- Having your child follow directions is a great way to promote a language-rich environment. A great approach is letting them lend a hand in the kitchen. As a bonus, they will explore new ingredients and build healthy eating habits.
- Search for target words in books, songs and curriculum material for opportunities to practice difficult sounds in words, sentences and conversations. A mirror can be helpful for children to see where their lips, teeth and tongue are positioned when producing sounds.
For children of any age, consider incorporating these tasks into their curriculum or routine:
- Playing “I Spy” gives your child a chance to identify objects and express descriptors and functions. For extra fun, plan a scavenger hunt!
- Obstacle courses can be great for language fun as well as gross motor skills. Kids are imaginative, so think creatively with what you already have at home (laundry baskets, pillows, boxes).
- Parents can make passive activities (like screen time) more interactive by interrupting to ask questions and describe nouns and verbs. For older kids, challenge them to hold a conversation rather than answer simple questions.
- Providing lots of sensory input can promote healthy language learning. Try playing with Jell-O, water, or sand to allow your child to explore with all their senses.
Thinking about the upcoming school year is stressful for families. You can alleviate stress and anxiety in children by establishing consistent routines and structure. Dedicating a workspace and providing a schedule can help them understand expectations and transition from one task to the next. By incorporating language-rich activities into home life, you can support your child’s speech and language regardless of how and where their curriculum is delivered.
You can access reliable resources about speech and language development, delays and disorders at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website at www.asha.org. For more information, visit www.buddingvoices.com or contact Morgan Schmincke at firstname.lastname@example.org.