Tips for Parents to Support Language Development
By: Mikeala Pogue
As a Speech Language Pathologist, we are experts in speech and language development. However, parents are experts when it comes to their children. A child is usually seen for 30 minutes either once or twice a week by a Speech Pathologist. We need parents to help build language skills when they are with their children. Parents are one of the biggest assets in promoting language development in young children through play. Sometimes the simplest toys can bring out the best language. We encourage parents to sit down with their children at least once a day for ten minutes and work on their language skills by simply playing with them. Parents of young children often inquire what they can do to support their child’s language development.
Here are 3 ideas of how to use simple toys to promote language in your toddler or preschool age child:
Bubbles: How do I facilitate language skills using a bottle of bubbles?
A simple bottle of bubbles can target the following speech and language skills: following routines, imitating words and sounds, requesting more, and using the m, g, p, b, and w sounds.
- Practice saying or signing “open” and “bubble.”
- Practice saying “Ready, Set, GO!” After you have modeled saying “Ready, Set, GO!” a few times, pause before saying “GO!” and encourage your child to say it.
- While blowing bubbles, you can practice saying “wow” while they fall and “pop” as you and your child pop the bubbles.
- Before blowing more bubbles, have your child request “more” either by signing it or saying it.
Puzzles: How do I encourage language using a simple peg puzzle?
Puzzles can target the following language skills: following 1-2 step directions, requesting, following routine and naming/identifying vocabulary.
- Start by showing your child each puzzle piece and name each animals/object on the puzzle. If it is an animal puzzle you can say the noise each animal makes.
- Give all of the puzzle pieces to your child and work on identifying vocabulary by saying “I want _____ please” and having your child give you the requested piece. You can also work on having you child request the puzzle pieces from you by sign or saying “more.”
- You can work on following simple directions by giving your child a puzzle piece and followed by the command of “put on.”
- You can work on two step directions by putting two puzzle pieces in front of your child and say “First put on _____, then put on _____.”
Potato Head: Mr. Potato Head is great for learning parts of the body but you can use it to teach so much more!
You can work on naming vocabulary, basic concepts (on/off), basic verbs, requesting, and imitating 1-2 word phrases
- Start of by putting all of the Mr. Potato Head pieces in a box and have your child request by saying “potato?” (you can simplify the word and use “tato” instead of “potato” if you need to). Encourage your child to imitate “tato” or request by signing or saying “more.”
- Encourage your child to sign or say “more” for each piece as you bring them out.
- Model and talk about putting each piece “on” and taking pieces “off.”
- If your child is able to say 1-2 word phrases, then have them imitate “I want _____” to request.
- Your child can work on describing each piece before putting it on by requesting using a 2 word phrase like “red shoes.”
- You can model simple verbs by having Mr. Potato Head “walk, dance, sleep etc.”
- Have your child help you clean up and work on identifying vocabulary by asking your child to give you specific pieces as you place them back in the box.