Tips and Resources

How to Practice Speech and Language with Your Child at Bedtime

Bedtime can be a quiet, calming opportunity to work on your child’s speech and language skills. When you add language practice to your child’s daily routines, it helps them learn to communicate in a natural, supportive way. Read on for some practical tips for focusing on speech and language during the bedtime routine.

Why work on speech therapy skills at home?

Children learn best when they’re with the people they love (that’s you!), in a place where they’re comfortable (that’s home!). And when it comes to speech and language, practicing during real-life routines is a surefire way to make progress. After all, the goal of speech therapy is to transfer the skills learned in sessions to everyday life.

Best of all, it’s easy to integrate speech practice into your routines at home. You don’t need any special materials, and you don’t always have to set aside a separate time to practice. The main ingredients are simply you and your child–no matter where you are and what you’re doing! 

Bedtime is a great example. It’s a routine that happens every day, so it allows for consistency. It’s also a time for one-on-one interactions that can strengthen your bond with your child and encourage their communication. Plus, this peaceful setting helps your child focus on language tasks without distractions. 

5 ways to practice speech and language at bedtime

Here are some ways you can work on speech and language skills while your child is getting ready for bed:

1 Putting on pajamas

Model language for your child by narrating the process of putting on pajamas. Identify body parts ("Let's put the shirt over your head") and name clothing items ("These are your pants").

Practice giving and following simple instructions, such as "Put your arms through the sleeves" and “Now pull your pants up.” 

You can also give your child the choice of two sets of pajamas and encourage them to communicate which they want. They can use gestures (like pointing) or words, depending on their skills.

2 Toothbrushing

Try using toothbrushing time to practice speech sounds. Say your child is working on pronouncing the /s/ sound. You can model the correct production of words like rinse and spit. Try gargle and gums if your child is working on the /g/ sound. You can get creative here!

You can also strengthen language skills by talking about your child’s actions ("Now we're putting on the toothpaste") and discussing concepts like "up and down" and "front and back."

3 Reading a book

Reading with your child before bed is a great way to introduce new vocabulary words and model more complex sentences. Get them interested by asking questions about the story or the pictures ("Where is the dog hiding?").

For children who are talking in phrases, encourage them to describe the images or retell parts of the story.

For older children, ask their thoughts on how a character is feeling, or what they think will happen next.

4 Talking about the day

Bedtime is a perfect time for both of you to reflect on your day. Ask your child open-ended questions, like "What was your favorite part of today?," instead of questions that have a yes/no answer. This helps improve conversational skills and expressive language.

5 Modeling smooth speech

If your child stutters, bedtime is an opportunity to practice fluency and smooth speech. Model calm and clear speech while you speak slowly and steadily.

Make it fun and functional!

Keep speech practice fun and interesting by using your child's interests as a guide. Let them choose the book you read. Follow the topic of conversations they bring up. Remember, the goal is to integrate practice into what your child is already doing–we don’t want it to seem too much like work! Offer praise and encouragement for their efforts, and let them take the lead when appropriate.

If your child becomes frustrated or seems tired, take a break from practicing. The goal is to create a positive experience that fosters speech and language growth. And of course, the ultimate goal is for your child to go to bed on time and get a good night’s sleep!

By weaving speech and language practice into your child's bedtime routine, you can support their development in a natural, practical way. Enjoy this quiet time with your child as you help them build their communication skills!

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