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​​​​​​​Enhancing Speech and Language Skills at Home

​​​​​​​​​​​​Below you will find a list of recommended activities that you and your child could work on at home. You will find ideas that can be incorporated into daily activities, specific websites you can go to for more information/ideas, and apps aimed at supporting speech and language development.

Speech and Language Apps

WH Question Cards: Who, What, When, Where, Why (free + in-app purchases)
This educational app from Super Duper Publications helps children learn how to correctly ask and answer WHO-WHAT-WHEN-WHERE-WHY questions with four entertaining learning games for each WH set of cards.

Let’s Name Things Fun Deck (free)
This colorful, educational vocabulary App for the iPhone®, iPad®, and iPod touch® has all 52 illustrated picture flash cards (plus audio of each card text) from the Let's Name Things Fun Deck® by Super Duper® Publications. Select the cards you want students to see, and have them name items to practice vocabulary, categorizing, and thinking skills. The prompts include statements like, “Let’s name… things that live in the ocean.” and “Let’s name… things you’d take on a trip.”​

16 Ideas to Improve Your Child’s Speech and Language

  1. ​​When your child starts a conversation, give your full attention whenever possible.

  2. Make sure that you have your child's attention before you speak.

  3. Pause after speaking. This gives your child a chance to continue the conversation.

  4. Continue to build vocabulary. Introduce a new word and offer its definition, or use it in a context that is easily understood. "I think I will drive the vehicle to the store. I am too exhausted to walk."

  5. Talk about spatial relationships (first, middle, and last; right and left) and opposites (up and down; on and off).

  6. Offer a description or clues, and have your child identify what you are describing: "We use it to sweep the floor" (a broom). "It is cold, sweet, and good for dessert. I like strawberry" (ice cream).

  7. Work on forming and explaining categories. Identify the thing that does not belong in a group of similar objects: "A shoe does not belong with an apple and an orange because you can't eat it; it is not round; it is not a fruit."

  8. Help your child follow two- and three-step directions: "Go to your room, and bring me your book." Or play a listening game such as “Simon Says.” Start with simple directions like, “Simon says touch your foot.” Slowly make the directions more difficult by adding more steps and basic concepts. “Simon says touch your left foot,” “Simon says touch your left foot and your nose,” “Simon says touch your nose before you touch the floor.”

  9. Encourage your child to give directions. Follow his or her directions as he or she explains how to build a tower of blocks.

  10. Play games with your child such as "house." Exchange roles in the family, with you pretending to be the child. Talk about the different rooms and furnishings in the house.

  11. The television also can serve as a valuable tool. Talk about what the child is watching. Have him or her guess what might happen next. Talk about the characters. Are they happy or sad? Ask your child to tell you what has happened in the story. Act out a scene together, and make up a different ending.

  12. Take advantage of daily activities. For example, while in the kitchen, encourage your child to name the utensils needed. Discuss the foods on the menu, their colour, texture, and taste. Where does the food come from? Which foods do you like? Which do you dislike? Who will clean up? Emphasize the use of prepositions by asking them to put the napkin on the table, in your lap, or under the spoon. Identify who the napkin belongs to: "It is my napkin." "It is Daddy's."

  13. Before you go shopping for groceries, discuss what you will buy, how many you need, and what you will make. Discuss the size (large or small), shape (long, round, square), and weight (heavy or light) of the packages.

  14. Use teachable moments to work on categorization and association skills.  If your child is eating an apple, say, “An apple is a fruit. Let’s see how many kinds of fruit we can think of.” Or if your child is putting on their jacket, say “What goes with a jacket?” Expect answers such as gloves, hat, boots, etc.

  15. When you are reading a book to your child, make comments about the pictures or text.  Ask questions that encourage your child to talk about the story. Rather than asking ‘yes/no’ questions, try using a variety of communication-enhancing questions such as open-ended questions (e.g., “What will he do now?”), cause & effect questions (e.g., “What would happen if …?”), and thinking questions (e.g., “How is she going to get home now?”).​

  16. Guessing games such as “I Spy," “Guess Who" and “Descriptive Go Fish" (e.g., “Do you have something that we use to dig?") are fun ways to help build a child's expressive language skills.​

When your Child is Difficult to Understand

​​​​When your child’s speech is difficult to understand, both you and your child may feel frustrated. The following suggestions may help to make talking a more enjoyable experience and help develop your child’s speech skills. 

Reduce Your Rate of Speech

It may be helpful for your child if you reduce your rate of speech slightly (not too unnatural) and allow them to see your face while you are speaking. This will help your child see a clear, correct model of sounds and words. 

Model Good Speech

When your child says a word incorrectly, don’t ask your child to repeat it, as this may cause them to become frustrated. Instead, provide your child with the correct model. For example, if your child says “loot at my nake” you might say “yeah, look at your snake”. This way, your child will know that you understood what they said AND they will also hear the correct pronunciation of the words. 

Emphasize the Sound Your Child Missed or Said Incorrectly

Emphasize the sounds your child is having difficulty saying by making the sounds a little bit louder and a little bit longer.  For example, if your child says “poon”, you might respond by saying “you have a s-s-spoon”. Again, do not make your child try to say the word again – they may not yet be ready to make certain sounds and having them say it again may increase frustration.​

Position Yourself at Your Child’s Level

When modeling sounds for your child, you should attempt to be face to face.  Allow your child to see the way you say sounds and words, while placing slight emphasis on the target sound.

Four S’s

Say Less – limit the amount of words used with the target word

Stress – emphasize the target sounds louder, longer, repeated

Go Slow – speak slower and insert more pauses

Show – use visual cues and show what you do with your mouth

© Chinook School Division 2014

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