Suggestions for Parents on Facilitating Language Development
Be an active listener and participant in the conversation the child wants to have
- Follow you child's lead.
- Ask-open-ended questions ("Tell me more")
- Encourage your child to elaborate on topics that are important to him or her.
Provide good models.
- If your child is "misarticulating" sounds, make the sound correctly yourself.
- Don't ask you child to repeat the words or the sound he or she is having trouble with.
- Correct your child by saying things like "Oh! You want soup?" instead of "Say soup, not thoup."
Talk, talk, talk about events in the child's life
- Talk about these events in a meaningful way.
- Don't talk too fast!
Provide a supportive atmosphere
- Make sure your child feels free to communicate with you.
- Provide lots of good models of speech and language.
- Be encouraging and supportive.
Read, read, read to your child
- Read to your child during infancy, toddlerhood, preschool years, and beyond.
- As you read to older children, point to the words, talk about the pictures.
- With older children, talk about words that rhyme, different letters and the sounds they make.
Have the tools of written communication available
- Have plenty of crayons, marking pencils, and paper available to your child.
- Encourage your child to use these tools to communicate.
Play sound and word games
- "How many words are the in the sentence "I like to go to the store'"
- "How many syllables are there in the word, baby? Let's clap it out - ba(clap) by(clap).
- "Let's play a word game. I'm thinking of glasses- kinds that we wear and kinds that we drink from. Can you think of another word that can mean two different things?"
If your child "dysfluences" (difficulties)
- Let your child finish each communication; don't finish sentences for him/her.
- Model easy, slower, less complex speech.
- Be patient!
Source: Speech-Language pathologist Deena Bernstein (personal communication, March 14, 2003).
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