Speech therapy can provide your toddler with a language boost during the 1-2 hours each week sessions occur, but it is the everyday use of language and carryover of the language goals that make a big difference with enhancing vocabulary. A speech therapist should continuously educate parents and caregivers on their toddler’s specific language goals and best methods to elicit language so they can play an active, fun role in their toddler’s language development.
Here are some general tips to encourage language skills while you go about your busy day:
- When supervising bath time, use different verbs (wash, pour, kick, splash) as you chatter to help build early sentences. Blow bubbles during the bath (blow, pop, open). Continue using verbs while helping your toddler get dressed (push, stand up, snap, zip), and during mealtime label food and utensils using complete sentences. For example: “You are scooping up peas with a spoon.” or “I am cutting my chicken with a knife.”
- Narrate what you are doing as you move through the day with your toddler. For example, when it’s time to pack for a playdate in the park, encourage your toddler to help pack the bag with you. Talk about the items going into the bag and WHY they are needed. For example –
- Let’s pack three diapers in case you have a big poop! One, two, three.
- Pretzels and apples for snack – yum!
- Two bottles of water, one for you and one for me.
- Bubbles are good for the park because they are messy.
- Let’s take a big ball to play soccer.
- Put the chalk in the bag so we can draw pictures.
And don’t forget the basics…
- Try to speak and read with your toddler face to face. Make sure your mouth is visible so your toddler can see how to form sounds.
- Ask good questions and avoid yes / no questions. If necessary, offer choices (e.g., Do you want the ball or the chalk?).
- When you ask a question, wait a few seconds for an answer.
- Use specific vocabulary vs. vague words (e.g., this, here, it).
- Eliminate or reduce screen time to no more than 30 minutes per day combined (e.g., television, iPad).
- When you are with your toddler, try to be present, and not on the phone.
Enjoy this time together. Even if you don’t hear new words from your toddler today, it doesn’t mean he wasn’t engaging and learning from you.
Should you feel your child needs professional support with language development, please feel free to contact Stephanie Sigal, M.A. CCC-SLP, speech therapist. Stephanie looks forward to hearing from you!