Hi, I hope you’ve already had a chance to watch my video, How to Tell If My Child Has a Speech-Language Disorder. In this video, I’ll summarize the importance of parents being involved in their child’s speech and language therapy. Research shows that parents who practice with their child at home can improve their child’s speech and language skills.
First of all, let me just say that it seems obvious that parents should be the child’s main teacher of speech and language, as they are the first and primary influencers in a young child’s life. What the child hears and learns as an infant and toddler can have a big effect on their skills later on. The more a child hears words pronounced correctly, or sentences constructed correctly, the more they will imitate that. Repetition of these forms is crucial for learning, and who better to do it than the child’s parents? They are around the child the most, and can incorporate learning into daily life in subtle ways.
Let’s talk about how parents can improve their child’s language skills. This is taken from the research article, “The Effectiveness of Parent-Implemented Language Interventions: A Meta-Analysis,” by Megan Y. Robertsa and Ann P. Kaisera.
- PARENTS TEACHING LANGUAGE
Parents can improve their child’s language development by doing 4 things.
- Increase parent-child interaction – It sounds simple, and it is! Just interact with your child more. Take a walk and talk about what you see. Have him help with chores or cooking and talk about it. Play with toys or games together and ask him questions. Interact and talk as much as you can.
- Respond to child’s communication – This begins early, when a parent responds to an infant’s verbal or non-verbal attempts to communicate. It continues as the child grows. Respond to your child when they are trying to communicate with you, as much as possible.
- Increase the amount & quality of language – As we said above, talk as much as possible with your child, but be sure to use correct grammar when you do it, even with young children. You may shorten your sentences, but you can still use correct grammar. Use a variety of words; don’t always ‘dumb it down’. Studies show that a child’s receptive vocabulary correlates to what he hears from his parents. Frequently label things you see together. “That is a skyscraper. That is asparagus. That is a telescope.”
- Use language learning support strategies – When your child speaks, repeat and expand upon what he says. For instance, if he says, “Baby cry,” you could respond, “Yes, the baby is crying. I can hear him crying too. I wonder why the baby is crying?” So not only did you expand what he said into a complete sentence, you repeated the -ing form of the verb three times.
Now let’s talk about how parents can improve their child’s speech skills. There are many different strategies for teaching speech sounds, and the research shows that parents who are taught these strategies can be effective in helping their child improve their speech. One such article is “Evaluation of Parent- and Speech-Language Pathologist–Delivered Multiple Oppositions Intervention for Children With Phonological Impairment: A Multiple-Baseline Design Study,” by Sugden, Eleanor, et al.
- PARENTS TEACHING SPEECH SOUND SKILLS
Parents can improve their child’s speech sound development by doing 4 things:
- Model Correct Speech – Just as with teaching language, it’s important to speak often around your child, and to do so correctly. Model the correct pronunciation of a word. If your child says, “I want to go wif you,” say, “You want to go WITH me?”
- Teach the Correct Way to Make a Sound – It’s important to teach the child exactly what he needs to do to make the sound correctly; sometimes modeling it is not enough. If you are not sure how to teach it, ask your child’s SLP, google it, or take a mini-class*.
- Practice With the Child Frequently – Practice makes perfect! There’s no way around it. Have your child practice the sound by itself, in words, in phrases, in sentences, and in conversation. There are a number of games and cards you can use to encourage your child to practice.
- Incorporate Practice into Daily Life –To really become fluent speaking correctly, your child must incorporate those skills into everyday conversation. Find subjects that include your child’s speech sound, and have conversations about it. For instance, if your child is working on ‘R’, you could talk about rain, rabbits, or railroads. Talk with him as much as possible, in a variety of locations, and listen for his speech sound. Encourage correct production (without embarrassing him in public).
So there you have it – simple ways you can help improve your child’s speech and language at home. You can make a difference!
*For specific methods on how to teach your child different sounds, check out my course ‘How to Teach Your Child Speech Sounds’ at clarityspeechandlanguage.com. There are also courses on how to teach each individual sound to your child. I give you step by step instructions and include practice materials as well.
Thanks for watching and have a great day!