As a South Bay speech therapist, I often get asked by parents in Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, and Redondo Beach what they can do at home to encourage their children to become better communicators. I love this question! It shows that a parent is willing to put in the necessary effort to help their child improve their speech and language capabilities, and not just depend on their speech therapy sessions to “fix the problem.”
A speech therapist might only see a child for an hour every week. And while a lot can be accomplished in an hour-long speech therapy session, you, as a parent, have many opportunities to positively influence your child’s speech and language progression during the rest of the week. Here are three specific things you can do to help your child become a better communicator.
Often, as parents, we try to anticipate what our child wants and give it to them. While it’s good to be in tune with your child, you should also give them the opportunity to express what they want or need by asking them specific questions.
For most young children, especially ones with speech and language issues, answering open-ended questions can be difficult. It is better to provide them with choices. If you sense they are hungry and want a snack, instead of asking, “What do you want to eat?” ask, “Would you like a banana or an apple?” That way, they can mimic your words to express what they want rather than having to come up with the vocabulary on their own.
Read to Them
Reading with your child is another great way to teach them new vocabulary and also to bond with your child. Put him or her on your lap and have fun with it! You don’t just have to read straight through a book—ask your child questions as you go along. Model new vocabulary and point out the corresponding picture (“Do you see the boy’s blue shirt?”).
If your child is a preschooler, talk to him or her about what the characters in the story might be feeling. Again, don’t ask open-ended questions that are hard for young children to answer. Give them choices. (“Do you think the boy was happy or sad when he fell down?”)
Get Down on Their Level
When you speak or interact with your children, get down on their level whenever possible. Physically bring your body down, so you are eye level with them. Get down on the floor to play with them. This shows that you are interested and engaged. When children sense that you are engaged, they will be more likely to willingly engage in conversation with you, at whatever level they are able.
Keep playtime fun, but also use it as an opportunity to introduce new vocabulary when you can.
Contact Lil’ Chit-Chat for Speech Therapy in Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, or Redondo Beach
If you think your child could use some extra help in the area of speech and communication, give us a call or contact us through our website to set up an evaluation with one of our licensed South Bay speech therapists. We look forward to hearing from you!