Speech therapy doesn’t need to take place in a school or clinic. And no special tools or materials are required!
Your home is a language library, full of everything you need to promote language development. In fact, research had shown that children learn best from the people they love most--their parents and caregivers--and by using objects they’re most familiar with. It makes sense: If we want our child to be able to talk to us when we’re at home, we should practice by using what’s already at home!
Teach your child to talk using toys
Let’s start with toys. There are no “magic” or “best” toys that speech therapists use for language learning. So use your own! You should feel empowered to jump down on the floor and play alongside your child. Make sure to narrate what your child is doing, and also use language modeling with their toys: “The blocks fell down!” “Go to sleep, teddy bear,” “Clean up the cars.”
While all toys can be tools for learning, some can be better than others. We recommend not stocking up on toys that talk or make a lot of noise. That said, these can be engaging for kiddos--so don’t feel like you can’t have any.
Teach your child to talk using household objects
What about outside of playtime? As mentioned earlier, learning doesn’t only exist in a daycare or classroom setting, and we don’t need to have a speech therapist around to practice language skills. Language is in nearly all of our interactions.
When you’re at home, one recommendation is to provide labels for the things your child is interested in. If they pick up a paper from the coffee table and hand it to you, you can say “paper.” If they're in the kitchen when you’re cooking dinner, open and close the cupboard doors while narrating “open...close...open...close.” We know your life is busy, so don’t feel pressured to label absolutely everything your child touches. But it’s important to remember that language can surround us anytime we want!
If you’re currently working with a speech therapist, make sure they’re giving you tips and recommendations for using household items to incorporate language into your child’s everyday routines. It’s a great method for practicing language development in a way that’s fun and feels natural.