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Tips for Parents

Ways to Help Your Child Learn to Speak

  • One of the most important things you can do is read daily to your child – stories, poems, nursery rhymes, etc.
  • Teach your child simple songs with very repetitive words.
  • Give your child time to listen when giving him instructions. Be sure you have his attention, and encourage a verbal or vocal response.
  • Don’t expect perfection. Be ready to praise effort, even though it falls short of the goal.
  • Reward all efforts to talk. Smile, nod, repeat what you DID understand, and follow that with a clarification question. (e.g., “You are talking about the dog. What did he do?”) You may need to help him re-phrase what he wants to say.
  • Take advantage of language stimulation opportunities in everyday living events. Talk about what you are doing, what you see, and where you are going.
  • Help your child associate sounds and words with people, activities, and objects.
  • Make animal and other common environmental sounds for and with him; encourage him to imitate the sound and associate it with a word.
  • Do not expect your child to repeat a word correctly after just one example. He needs to hear sounds and words correctly many times before you can expect a correct imitation.
  • Do not allow others to tease him about his speech.
  • Refrain from interrupting you child during his speech attempts, or telling him to slow down or start over, as that may break up his speech fluency.
  • When discussing stories, ask for specific information or details; this shows the child you expect good listening during the story. When reading stories, ask the child to predict what happens next.
  • Have your child practice thinking in categories by dividing pictures and objects into groups. You can begin at a very basic level, by having pictures of “things I like” and "things I don’t like”.
  • Play games involving “spatial terms” (i.e., under, in front of, etc.).
  • Children like to play “bigger kid” games; simplify the rules, and let them manipulate the tokens according to your new set of rules.
  • Use snack and meal times to increase vocabulary by talking about how things taste and using actions words about eating (suck, eat, sip, gobble).