Working on speech and language goals throughout the week can be both easy and fun! Try including goals into daily routines such as morning or bedtime, mealtime, bath time, playtime or even driving in the car. There is a variety of activities and exercises you can do around the home that only takes 5 minutes at a time. Some of our favorites are;
1. Communicate with your kid. Start talking from birth. Babble back when they cooing. When focused on communication, the child will be encouraged to speak. Don’t force them to speak all at once.
2. Singing to your kid is another way to encourage them to speak. Songs will help them learn and memorize new words. Their listening skill will also develop.
3. Read books with your kid, even when they are babies. Reading aloud age-appropriate books while also describing the pictures will grab their attention. While you name things in the book, the child will have a visual aid.
4. Describe your everyday activities. While in the grocery store, point out the vegetable and name it. Explain what you are doing while cooking a meal. Point out objects around the house when you are cleaning it. Make your explanations simple.
Participating in these 5-minute activities can help you and your child work together to target and practice all goals. Check out some helpful ideas and tips below!
Select A Highly Desired Activity | Think about an activity your child loves to do. The beauty about speech practice is that you can target speech goals in almost any activity - without any fancy or expensive materials!
You can do this by implementing what I call “structured play.” You will alternate between “work” and “play” throughout your practice time. Here’s an example: before every turn, your child takes in their game, craft, etc., prompt your child to practice the speech goals you are targeting 1-5X times before their next turn. Then continue on in this fashion (work-play-work-play). Alternating between speech tasks and rewards (the activity) helps to keep children motivated and participating!
Here’s a pro tip: If your child is initially having a hard time staying engaged, then only make them practice their speech goal 1X time. Keep the ratio of work vs play 1:1 initially. As they get used to this structured play, you can increase the expected amount of practice between turns.
Give Encouragement and Praise | This is one of the very most important sections in my opinion, and one that’s very close to my heart. No matter how your practice goes with your child, no matter how many tasks they get right or wrong, don’t forget to praise them!
This can be hard because it’s still important to point out incorrect responses. Good awareness of correct vs. incorrect responses is the only way a child can improve. However, balance this delicately by also providing some positive comments.
Here are some of my favorite phrases to say in response to a child who may be struggling with a task:
“I love how you are trying!”
“That’s not quite it, but I see you are working so hard!”
“You never give up! Let’s keep practicing. I know you can do it!”
And of course, on the days your child is really rocking and rolling with their speech goals, tell them! The smile on your child’s face when they feel that sense of accomplishment is like nothing else in the world.
Don't forget to have FUN with your child, and talk with their Speech Therapist for more ideas on how to work on their specific speech goals!