How You Can Help Your Child's Speech DelayLeanne Sherred, M.S., CCC-SLP
We're big advocates of the role parents and caregivers play in their child's speech and language development. Why? Because children learn to communicate during everyday activities and conversations--and no one spends more time with your child than you.
That's why we're sharing ideas for activities and at-home exercises you can practice with your child at home. Whether at the dinner table, on the playground, or during a routine trip to the store, there's no wrong time to help your child improve their speech delay.
In addition, if you're already receiving speech therapy, it's important that your speech therapist empowers you with the tools and knowledge to help your child make progress through daily, at-home practice.
We've also included a list of key questions to ask your doctor or speech therapist about your child's speech delay. The more you learn and prepare, the better you can help and support your child.
Everyday tips to support your child's speech
It may sound (or feel) silly, but start talking to your child at birth. Even newborns benefit from hearing speech.
Respond to your baby’s coos and babbling with positive signals.
Play simple games with your baby like peek-a-boo and patty-cake.
Talk to your child a lot. Even a simple act like narrating what you’re doing can be helpful.
Read books aloud. If they lose interest, simply talk about the pictures.
Sing to your child and provide them with music. Learning new songs helps your child learn new words, and uses memory skills, listening skills, and the expression of ideas with words.
Expand on what your child says. For example, if your child says, “Dora,” you can say, “Here is Dora!”
Describe for your child what they are doing, feeling, and hearing in the course of the day. For example, “You are hungry.”
Give your child your full attention when they’re talking to you. When you ask them a question, give them enough time to respond before filling in the silence.
Ask your child lots of questions.
Don’t point out or correct grammar mistakes. Instead, just model good grammar by saying phrases correctly.
Speech delay questions to ask your doctor or speech therapist
If you're concerned about your child's speech development, we encourage you to speak with a healthcare provider or speech therapist. Here are some questions to help you come prepared and make the most of your meeting.
Why is my child not talking yet?
Is it normal for my child to not be speaking yet at their age?
My child seems to have trouble understanding what I’m saying, but they do respond to gestures. Is it possible they have a hearing loss?
Could my child have a developmental disability?
What can I do to help my child speak or understand better?
What types of exercises, activities, or games can I do with my child to help encourage their speech development?
How will a speech delay affect my child’s school performance?