Like any other skill acquired in childhood, learn to communicate clearly — both in the way you speak and the words you choose — are words that develop over months and years. Some children start babbling as early as toddlers while others remain strong and quiet until they feel more comfortable with speech patterns.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), most children start talking between the ages of 1 and 2. By age 2, most children have a large word base to work with (think “ball”, “dog”, “Mama” or “Dada”, “cup”, “eat”) and often combine words together into two- word questions and sentences.
If your child does not seem to be within the normal range of speech, it may not be a sign of a delay in speech or language development, but it may also be appropriate to begin participating in some Simple speaking exercises with your child at home. .
Speech therapy at home can be especially helpful for children who are not easily frustrated and have only mild developmental delays or misalignments, says Massachusetts-based pediatric speech therapist Alyssa Gusenoff. More serious problems, such as voice regression, should be brought up with a licensed speech therapist.
Here’s a guide to doing basic speech therapy at home with your child, from the first steps through finding outside help.
Rate your options
There’s no reason to go it alone when it comes to speech therapy if there are resources in your community that can support you. You should consult your child’s pediatrician first if you feel your child has a speech delay or has joint problems. Your pediatrician can share developmental milestones in speech and let you know if your child is really struggling.
“It’s important to know what is appropriate for speech development and what is simply a parent’s preference,” says Gusenoff. “Parents without paediatrics knowledge may not realize that 4-year-olds don’t need the ‘r’ sound yet.”
Gusenoff says many communities provide early intervention services for preschool children. If your child is already enrolled in school, your school district may hire a speech therapist who can also help you. Don’t be shy — ask around to see what’s available. Many services are provided free of charge to townspeople.
Rate your child
If you’ve decided to try speech therapy at home (in lieu of professional services or possibly while you wait for a therapist to arrive), your child’s effectiveness will depend on several things.
Young children will find it difficult to concentrate and focus on anything you call “therapy”. You can try to keep things fun and light-hearted, but a child who is too ignorant to understand that he or she is making wording mistakes may not be receptive to correcting them. An older child may be more motivated to improve his or her speech as that means they will be better understood by friends and caregivers.
Again, kids who are not easily frustrated are more likely to talk to their parents. Children with a low tolerance for frustration may view therapy as a negative experience.
Type of speech join required
There will be different therapeutic approaches if your child has a speech delay (they have far fewer words for their age) than a joint problem (they make a “t” sound instead of a hard “c” sound). ).
Conditions of coexistence
If your child is simply lagging behind in one area, you may find it easier to catch up with them at home over time. If speech problems occur along with another developmental condition, such as autism, you may want to seek professional help.
Experiment with home remedies
When you’re ready to practice, you can try a variety of methods to help your child improve his or her speech. Here are some of Gusenoff’s favorite strategies.
Stop anticipating your child’s needs
We know, it’s tempting to dance to what your kids want whenever they point to it — but doing so discourages them from using their words. Give them a chance to ask for cookies, says Gusenoff, instead of grabbing them as soon as your child points to the cupboard.
Minimize the use of pacifiers
If your older child or preschooler is still using a pacifier, it may be difficult for you to break the habit, but it can also be difficult to talk to the pacifier in the mouth, so continuing to use a pacifier developing speech can interrupt this process.
Instead of saying, “What would you like to drink?” Ask your child “Do you want milk or juice?” A child who is having difficulty building a vocabulary will benefit from hearing options and being able to choose one, rather than being expected to pull the correct word out of thin air.
“When you say the name of an object, bring the object up to your mouth so your child can see your mouth move,” Gusenoff recommends. This creates an immediate visual connection between the subject and the way the subject’s words form in the mouth.
Repeat the words together (for example, “I will say “apple” and then you say “apple.” “Ready?” Apple. “Your turn!”). The game of peek-a-boo also encourages children to talk by getting their attention, as does hiding. Gusenoff says hiding things around the house, like hiding small objects in play dough and storing objects inside containers, can encourage children to ask questions, exclaim and ask for support.
Remind and Retain (With a reason)
If your child is having a hard time because they simply don’t have a lot of opportunities to practice different speech patterns, you’ll have to learn how to relax to make them feel at ease. uncomfortable sometimes. Don’t push your child to the brink of tears, but you can pause or stop to see if your child can finally solve their own problems when they need something.
For example, Gusenoff says you can help your child put on a shoe — then get up and walk. Does your child call after you to get your attention? If so, ask him what he needs (you know the answer, but pretend you don’t!). The goal here is to encourage your child to communicate on his own, rather than always relying on you to say it all.
Most children learn best when things are repeated (repeatedly!), and the same is often true of words. When your child says a word correctly, repeat it in a positive tone. Gusenoff says, if your child makes a pronunciation mistake, repeat the mistake back to them so they can hear what they’re really saying versus what they’re saying. think they said. Some children may not realize they are making a mistake until one of their parents repeats it to them!
Make multiple observations
Now that you’re spending dedicated time at home with speech therapy, it’s important to start monitoring your child’s progress. Gusenoff says it’s easy to forget or overlook where your child started when learning a new skill, meaning you may be underestimating how much progress they’re making. Keep a log or diary so you can visually track your efforts.
Gusenoff also recommends paying attention to words you can understand from your child versus words that a grandparent and a complete stranger can understand. There will be a difference between those three metrics (i.e. you can understand 75%, your mother-in-law can understand 50% and a stranger can understand 25%), but there shouldn’t be too much of a gap between each level. . According to Nemours, most people – no matter how well they understand your child – can understand most of your child’s speech by the time they are 4 years old.
Know your limits
It’s important to understand that you can guide and support your child at home, helping to develop essential skills, but you can’t fix more serious problems without a professional. It’s one thing to help your child say the “d” and “b” sounds more clearly, but it’s another to teach them how to make more complex sounds involving the tongue or the back of the throat.
Gusenoff added that children who are very frustrated by their speech problems, who are regressing or making no progress at all, those who fumble for sounds but can’t move their mouths, and children who experience quality of life problems because of communication errors or developmental delays. is not the best candidate for home speech therapy and would benefit from professional help.
If you’ve reached the limit of what you can provide for yourself, try not to take it as a personal insult. Instead, do what you can and then reach out for more help. Your child’s pediatrician is a great place to start — they usually know all the local resources and can point you in the right direction.
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