Parents have monumental affects on a child's communication skills. You can help continue to develop communication skills at home by capitalizing on communication opportunities that arise in daily living. Some specific ways to facilitate language include increasing communication time, consistent storybook sharing, and embedding language in everyday activities.
Spend a lot of time communicating with your child, even during infancy - talk, sing, and encourage imitation of sounds and gestures. Give eye contact, show interest, and value their participation in conversations. Allow your child to initiate and lead and add information to help your child learn. Use good questions that help children enter and stay in a conversation. Be sure to give enough wait time. Our children need time to think and decide how to respond.
Use good questions:
• Show interest and create anticipation (What next? What if? What now?)
• Allow our child choices (Do you want _________ or ___________)
• Extend child's thinking (What's happening? How does it work? What now?)
• Interpret our child's curiosity (What? Where? Who? Why?)
Avoid questions that stop conversation:
• Questions that bombard or demand (What's that? What's that? What's that?...over and over again)
• Questions that answer themselves (You want the ball, don't you?)
Read to your child - starting as early as 6 months. You don't have to finish a whole book, but look for age-appropriate soft or board books or picture books that encourage your child to look while you name the pictures. Try starting with a classic book such as Pat the Bunny, in which the child imitates the patting motion, or books with textures that your child can touch. As your child gets older, let him or her point to recognizable pictures and try to name them. Then move on to nursery rhymes, which have rhythmic appeal. Progress to predictable books, such as Eric Carle's Brown Bear, Brown Bear, in which your child can anticipate what happens. Use good questions to ask about what is happening in the book or what might happen next. Predicting these future events helps child develop inferencing skills that are so important to language development.
Research has conclusively proven that phonemic awareness is the best predictor of reading success. This ability to understand and manipulate speech sounds is critical to your child's ability to learn to read.
Use everyday situations to reinforce your child's speech and language. In other words, talk your way through the day. For example, name foods at the grocery store, explain what you're doing as you cook a meal or clean a room, point out objects around the house, and as you drive, point out sounds you hear or places you see. Ask questions and acknowledge your child's responses (even when they're hard to understand). Keep things simple, but never use "baby talk."
Add language and experience:
• Imitate and Add (Say what the child says, do what the child does, then add another word or action connected to the one you've just imitated)
• Interpret (Use other words that interpret what your child is feeling or wanting. It shows your child you understand her and gives her the information she might need.)
• Expand (Add a little more to what your child says by labeling, describing, pretending, projecting, explaining, talking about the future, or talking about feelings) We should keep it simple in the early stages of language development but then add little by little so as not to overwhelm the child.
Some Helpful Links
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Child Development Institute
A great website that provides parent education that is current, relevant and easy to attain. Topics include health, safety and child development as well as many other general parenting tips.
A website that offers easily understood information about communication disorders, and provides ideas for home activities that nurture speech/language development.
Free Language Stuff
A website by Speech-Language Pathologist Paul Morris, with hundreds of language worksheets and activities in more than 20 areas.
Little Talkers was created by speech and language pathologist Trisha Shipcott, and includes online tutorial videos and developmental activity suggestions
Online Children’s Stories
Free online children’s books.
Great information about child development!
Play on Words
A great, resource filled blog & website from Speech Language Pathologist, Sherry Y. Artemenko. She has very informative articles on speech, early intervention, as well as book & toy reviews and super ideas on working with your child’s speech!
Links to useful information, fun activities, and parenting resources to help you teach your child sign language
Information for parents with questions about speech and language development
Speech Therapy Ideas
A wonderful collection of speech therapy ideas, activities and materials
Speaking of Speech
An interactive forum for speech/language pathologists and teachers to improve communication skills in our schools
The Speech Stop
A collection of helpful tip sheets and other resources for parents
The Stuttering Foundation
The Stuttering Foundation provides free online resources, services and support to those who stutter and their families, as well as support for research into the causes of stuttering.
The following Quia games and activities have been created by speech-language pathologists and speech and language specialists across the country. They include opportunities for articulation practice as well as work on language elements such as vocabulary, figurative language, synonyms, antonyms and phonemic awareness (pre-literacy). Quia games require Java to run. When using these games, it is important to encourage children to verbalize the words for oral practice.
StoryPlace.org is a terrific website that has a number of online stories and interactive activities for preschoolers and elementary-aged students. Elementary themes include interactive online stories and a print out activity. A book list that corresponds with each theme is also offered. This site requires Java to run.
Do2Learn is a website that offers various language, speech and learning activities that address facial expressions, emotions, sequencing, vocabulary, synonyms, antonyms, songs and rhymes. Click on the Songs & Games tab to access these great activities.
Junior's Web.Com has many online articulation and language activities that can also be purchased by CD for uninterrupted practice. However, this can be a fun site to play games including matching, hang man, concentration, puzzles and coloring.
EduPlace.com is a website created Houghton Mifflin, publishers of many textbooks and reading programs. This section of the site offers online games that target current events, spelling and phonemic awareness, geography and vocabulary. Click on Wacky Web Tales to access a web-based Mad Libs Game for students in grade 3 and up. Great practice for parts of speech and grammar!
This website offers a number of free online games for kids. Games touch upon a variety of topics, including vocabulary, grammar, reading, math and some that are just for fun! Check out Plural Girls, Grammar Gorillas or click on the reading tab for some great language activities.
Scholastic.com's Family Playground is a great website for preschool and school-age children and their parents. This website includes a variety of games and activities for children related to popular characters and children's books such as Clifford, Magic School Bus, Walter Wick, and I Spy.
Seussville is a website with some great language activities. Enter the Playground to access online and home activities. Go to the Seussville StoryMaker to design your own story. Work on using language appropriately or try to write all the words using your target sound. Other online games that target language include Sam-I-Am Says, One Fish Two Fish Concentration, and Fox in Sox Matching Game. Suessville also has great print and play activities to complete with your child.
This website is focused on developing reading skills including identifying letters, matching letters to sounds, decoding words by word families (i.e. -at, -an, -ig), as well as short, decodable text. It also has downloadable and printable activities and material.
This website offers terrific online, interactive tools for kids in Kindergarten through upper elementary grades. In addition to the many reading and writing tools, the following are great activities that target language, vocabulary, phonemic awareness and auditory discrimination skills: ABC Match, Acrostic Organizer, Comic Creator, Construct-A-Word, Eye on Idioms, Fact Fragment Frenzy, Fractured Fairy Tales, What's in the Bag and Crossword Puzzles. To use, first click on the activity name, then click on the link at the top of the page that says "visit this interactive tool".
Arcademic Skill Builders
This is a great resource for highly motivating online games that target educational skills. Scroll down to the language arts games to play Word Frog which practices Synonyms, Antonyms and Homonyms, Word Invasion which practices Parts of Speech (nouns, pronouns, verbs) or Verb Viper which practices correct forms of verbs (past tense, -ing). Additional math and language arts games are also available.