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How parents can help with speech development

Advice as to how a parent can encourage their child to develop strong speech, language and communication skills through interaction
Parents can help their children develop speech and language skills:
  • Provide a stimulating environment
  • Read books and sing songs to your child on a daily basis, beginning when she is a baby
  • Introduce any new vocabulary in a meaningful context
  • Speak directly to your child, giving her time to respond
  • Avoid finishing sentences for your child
Provide a stimulating environment

Children need stimulation and providing them with the opportunity to discover and learn are just as important as the actual words waiting to be spoken. You will help your child by providing ample opportunities for them to discover hidden talents.

Read to your child

Reading to your child from being a tiny baby is perhaps one of the most important things you can do. By taking the time to spend with your child with a book, you are helping them to appreciate the qualities that language can have and their interest in these qualities is what makes them keen learners. Not only that, but your child will learn a whole lot more about grammar and word tools. Children's books especially are full of rhymes and vivid pictures to accompany the words and children can get lost in the language. Reading also promotes another important speech related ability, to be able to read out loud. Many children struggle with just being able to read, much less the ability to do it out loud. Story time can bring a whole new dimension to the important skills of language. It is never to young to start reading to a child. A newborn can appreciate the gently lull of words and some brightly coloured pictures.

Describe it

Describing what children are doing, seeing and hearing can lead to a lot of useful speech development. Help your child appreciate the ability to transform vision into speech and they will quickly be intrigued to do the same. Try naming things around the house. Stick the name of the object onto the actual object so that in passing your child will begin to recognise and repeat the words. Write 'bed' on a piece of paper and stick it on the bed. Sing

Make sure you provide plenty of opportunities for song. Often, much of a child's first language comes from repeating words or phrases from songs. When they hear a song, it stands out from all the rest of the language and sparks certain recognition. They have heard it before and will learn to repeat it.

Repetition

Children learn through doing. That means repetition. Provide plenty of opportunity for them to learn through repeating things often. Whether it is songs, books, words or directions, if you follow a pattern it will become familiar and when it is familiar they will learn to recognise it and attempt to repeat it.

Contact with other children

The need to communicate with other children is very strong. When your child is learning to share they need to develop the ability to communicate their needs quickly and they will soon learn to put their feelings into words if they spend enough time around other children. Take them to playgroups or to the park and encourage them to interact with others.

Try simple games
  • Matching games - teach children to describe what they are looking for


  • Songs - teach a child to talk when trying to repeat
  • Reading - teaches a child word recognition and grammar


  • Cooking - make a simple recipe chart and have your children follow the steps while cooking. They will have to read out loud and associate the pictures with the actual objects required
  • Describing - play games with a blindfold where the child has to describe an object. Even smaller children will be able to use words like, sticky, hot, cold, smooth
  • Talk - whilst you are doing things, such as dressing, bathing, and feeding. 'Mummy is washing Ben's hair.', 'Ben is eating peas.' 'These peas are good!'
  • Imitate - teach your baby to imitate actions, such as peekaboo, clapping, blowing kisses, pat-a-cake, itsybitsy spider, and waving "bye-bye." These games teach turn taking that is needed for conversation

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