Easy Speech Therapy Tips for Children
Not every child with a speech disorder or delay requires years of intensive therapy. Some communication problems are minor. With a little persistence, you can work on issues like proper pronunciation with your child between therapy sessions. Always ask your child’s speech therapist about activities that would be most effective for your child. It can also be helpful to observe the speech therapy sessions so that you can understand the techniques being used.
Use positive reinforcement. Ask your child if he would like to play with the toy car or the teddy bear. Point to each object as you name it. This encourages your child to say the object’s name. If he has trouble with the word, repeat it and encourage him to say it again. Rewarding him with the correct toy helps encourage him to “use his words.”
If your child has trouble with whole words, use games to work on individual sounds. Play the Peek-A-Boo game. Hold a napkin in front of your face, lower it, and say “puh.” Laugh at yourself to encourage your child to laugh. He’ll likely start trying to say “puh” after you.
Turn everyday activities into therapy time. If your child has trouble with “b” sounds, draw a bubble bath. Point to the bubbles and say “buh” over and over again until your child can repeat it after you. Progress to repeating the entire word, “bubble,” and encourage him to mimic you. If he has trouble with “s” sounds, swish the water around and say “swoosh.” Encourage him to do the same.
Sing songs with your child. Encourage him to sing “Old MacDonald” with you, particularly the “EIEIO” verse. If he has trouble with the pronunciation, sing the verse again and wait for him to mimic you.
Read to your child every day. Select rhyming books like those by Dr. Seuss. Read a short sentence or phrase, stop, and ask your child to repeat it to you. You will likely need to repeat the words many times. Read slowly and exaggerate the words, drawing out the sounds. Some children may also enjoy accompanying the rhymes with movement, like jumping rope to a rhyme or tapping out the rhyme on a toy drum.
Activities like rhyming and playing games can help turn therapy time into playtime, making speech therapy fun for your child. The key is persistence; learning language, especially for children with speech disorders, requires a great deal of repetition.