Help your child talk: Talk about what you are doing

You are busy.   You don’t have time to work on language.  Well, at least you think that you don’t.    But all that you need to do is talk! To help your child, talk out loud about what you are doing.  While washing the dishes, talk about the dirty cups, soap, washing, etc.  While doing the laundry, talk about putting the items in and out of the washer, folding, the warm or wet clothes, and smells of the detergent and fabric softener.  Hate making the bed, talk about your feelings and why you complete the chore anyway. Your child will learn valuable language by listening.  Hopefully soon, they can pitch in with the chores, too!

Help your child talk: do something unexpected

Children like routines.  They like routines because they give the world order and make it easier to understand.  Routines even make it easier for early talkers to actually say something.  That’s why I like to use unexpected moments to my advantage…to get a child to talk. Here are some ideas: 1.  Put the doll’s hat on your head 2.  Eat your cereal out of a cup…not a bowl 3.  Try to put on your child’s shoes 4.  Read the book upside down You get the idea.  Try it.  Your child will most likely verbally protest your momentary insanity.  Do something unexpected to encourage a great interaction and lots of talking!

Help your child talk: Mix up a routine

Your child loves routines because it helps them know what to expect.  Use this love of routines to enhance your child’s communication. Set up a routine for play or a daily task.  During the routine, talk about what you and your child are doing.  Practice this routine, then mix it up. When you change the routine, your child will let you know his thoughts through words or gestures. Let’s look at the routine of hand washing. 1.  If you use a phrase over and over, don’t say the last word, then wait to see what your child does. 2.  Forget the soap. 3.  Give the child the towel before you wash hands. 4.  When your hands are dirty, act like you don’t know what to do. Then wait!  Your child will say or do something.  Of course, they will think you are silly!  It is so much fun to hear

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Help your child talk: Don’t anticipate your child’s needs

What?  Don’t anticipate my child’s needs? You are a great parent and do a fantastic job of meeting your child’s needs.  That begs the question, “do you anticipate your child’s needs too often?”  If you do, you may limit the chances your child has to tell you, in words or gestures, what he needs. If your child always gets what he needs, he won’t have any reason to express his desires.  He can just sit there and get a drink.  Why would he point to his cup  or say “water”? To help your young child use his words more, don’t anticipate his needs.  Forget to give him a spoon, don’t open the bubbles, or give him an empty cup.  Wait and see how much your child wants to say.  He’ll tell you what he wants.

The Very Sleepy Sloth

I found a great book to work on S blends:  The Very Sleepy Sloth. This cute book about an adorable, but snoozy sloth, is loaded with S blends.  Practice words like: sloth sleepy slow snooze speed strength swing spring If your little one is struggling to pronounce the S plus the other sound in the blend, try a visual cue.  Put your hand on your shoulder and slowly move it down your arm towards your hand while saying SSSSSSSSSS.  When you reach your hand, clap your hands for the next sound:  L, N, P, W, etc.   Practice the S blend words first, then try reading the book with the S blends.

What is recasting?

Recasting is a form of corrective feedback.  It is used often in speech and language therapy.   Recasts can be focus on pronunciation, on grammar, or on vocabulary.  After a recast, repetition is not expected. Recasts may sound like this: Child:  Wawa. Mom:  Water, you want water. Child:  I runned fast. Mom:  You ran very fast.

Help your child talk: Use sabotage

This is one of my favorite strategies to get children to talk.  Sabotage sets up the need for a request.  Here is a scenario from a parent/child interaction that I witnessed: Child:  “Bubbles” Parent:  “Here you go” (takes the lid off and starts blowing) Child: (quietly pops bubbles) I explained sabotage to Mom and here is what she did: Child:  “Bubbles” Parent:  “Here you go” (gives the container, lid intact, to the child) Child:  Looks at Mom then hands her the bottle and says “open” Parent:  Mom opens the bottle. Child:  Tries to blow bubbles.  After about 5 minutes of trying, she gives up and says to Mom:  “Bubbles”. Parent:  “Blow bubbles?” Child:  “Blow” With a little patience and “sabotage” the interaction was longer, the child initiated more, and used more words to get her needs met.

Be on your child’s level

This sounds simple; and it is.  When you want to encourage  more and better communication from your child, be on their level. It’s best to be at your child’s eye level.  This way, he can see your face and you are less intimidating.  Sit on the floor, put him in his high chair, or  pick him up.   Not only will he be able to see you better, but you will be better able to see and hear him, too.

Help your child talk: WAIT

I hear this often. “I know what my child talks but he won’t ask me for things.” If you know what your child wants, WAIT for him to ask. Give him the opportunity and your undivided attention then WAIT. Count to ten, sing a song, go over the grocery list in your head… WAIT! Children who are learning to use words need more time to formulate a thought. Most times, parents aren’t giving their child enough time to initiate or respond. Waiting sounds easy, but it is not. When your child is reaching for her milk, you may say “use your words”. Great. But then, you say, “milk, milk, here is the milk, you want milk”. This is a great way to model language but it does not allow your child any time to make the request. Instead, when you say “use your words”, WAIT.  Count to ten, then provide

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Help your child learn through repetition. Say a word over and over. Say it slowly and clearly. Use the word in a sentence. Say it again. Say it until you are blue in the face. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Children need a lot of repetition to learn. A child who is a late talker probably needs more repetition. Here is an example of how to repeat during snack time: Milk and cookies! This milk is good. Mmmm, cold milk. Jack is drinking milk. Will has milk. Mommy has milk. Milk! I like milk. Maybe your child will join in and say “milk”!

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