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).