When we think about speech therapy, we imagine a trained professional working to help a child with their Communication Milestones. We imagine ingenious techniques and time-honed skills. There’s no doubt that all that experience comes in handy. But a single session once or a few times a week can only do so much. That’s why the best speech therapist will recommend exercises at home.
For many parents, this is a daunting prospect. But it doesn’t have to be. Plus, continuing therapy in everyday life speeds up progress. After all, practice makes perfect.
The trick to practicing home speech therapy is to integrate the activities into your daily routine. Activities should be designed to enhance the progress that has already been made and introduce new concepts and challenges.
Here, we’ll explore some ideas to get you started.
Talk. Talk. Talk.
Learning isn’t complicated. You just repeat an activity: again, and again, and again. Sooner or later, your brain begins to pick up on the pattern or process. The memories build up like bricks in a house, as you construct your new skill. Some people do this quickly; others slowly. The same is true for speech.
Engaging in frequent conversation is perhaps the easiest method for integrating speech therapy at home. Artificial interaction, such as from television or radio, is no substitute for the real thing. In American children aged 6 to 12 months, a study found that those exposed to native Chinese speakers responded to specific phonemes. Children exposed to the same native speaker via video did not. Such a difference makes sense: language is designed to help us communicate in person.
Moreover, when the TV is on, we don’t talk. This makes us passive communicators. What we’re aiming for is the exact opposite.
Therefore, instead of relying on the TV to tell the story, do it yourself. Ask your child questions about what’s happening in the story. Who is the brave knight? Where does the big bad monster live? Doing so will help boost their imagination as well as their language. But try to avoid Yes and No questions. Keep things open-ended: the aim is to get them talking and thinking.
Or if they’re not in the story-telling mood, have a chat about their day? Or their favorite book or show. The conversation should be natural, as you encourage your child to express their ideas openly.
Practice the basics
You don’t start learning to walk by running a marathon. Nor do we learn to speak by giving a keynote speech or reading the works of Shakespeare. We don’t even start with a paragraph. Instead, we break speech down to its building blocks and then head out from there. As the saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.
The building blocks of speech are speech sounds or phonemes. Practicing these will create a foundation of good speech. They are also vital in later life, as there is a crucial connection between speech and early literacy. This can have effects that ripple across a lifetime.
But how to practice speech sounds in an engaging way?
Anyone who’s spent more than five minutes with a toddler will realize asking them to say /p/, again and again, isn’t going to happen. They’re going to get distracted, and the task will go nowhere. The solution is simple. Build the distraction into the task.
Repetitive games are an easy way to practice sounds repeatedly. Play a hopscotch game and have your child repeat the sound before each hop, skip, or jump. Place blocks into a tower, saying the sound with each block. How many blocks can they place before the tower comes tumbling down? Or hold a funny pose and say the sound as many times as they can before they fall over.
Once they’ve mastered their sounds, do the same thing with sentences. As before the key is repetition and practice. Keeping it fun just makes the whole exercise easier.
Read a story
Finally, by combining the two prior activities, we can start to read a story. Books are a fantastic visual aid. They allow children to see the sentences and individuals’ words, parsing out the sounds as they go. They also aid their imagination, giving them fresh ideas to explore and discuss. You don’t just have to read the words on the page. Ask about the pictures or the characters. ‘How do you think the Grinch got his dog, Max?’
By reading, you are creating connections between all the skills they’ve been practicing. The speech sounds are connected to the words on the page. These, in turn, are connected to the story and conversation. The layers of learning are beginning to form a structure. Furthermore, reading the same book, again and again, isn’t a bad thing. Familiarity provides security while mastering the basics. In time, they’ll develop the confidence to move onto bigger and bolder challenges. Although we always have our favorite stories.
Moreover, unlike TV, reading keeps us active participators in the stories. We’re speaking the words out loud and imagining the characters. Just keep the practice consistent and watch out for any frustration. Suppose your child is struggling with a section. It’s alright to take a break. The book isn’t going anywhere. The last thing you want is for reading and speaking to be associated with negative feelings. Then, once they go back and persevere, reward them with a treat.
Practicing all these skills is essential. It will speed up learning, leading to greater progress. However, not all speech problems can be solved so easily. Nor is it sensible to do everything yourself. The help and guidance of a professional therapist will help improve the results of any home speech therapy. Therefore, reach out for a Free Consultation with one of our incredible speech therapists. We’ll discuss any problems and get you the help you need. We’re only an email or phone call away.
- https://www.home-speech-home.com/twenty-5-minute-speech-therapy-activities-you-can-do-at-home.html https://www.yourmodernfamily.com/helping-a-toddler-with-a-speech-delay-activity-ideas/