Practical Strategies for Supporting Speech Development

Published August 16th, 2023 by Rachel MacMullen M.S. CCC-SLP

As a parent or caregiver, you play a vital role in supporting your child's speech development on a daily basis. Wondering what you can do to create a supportive environment for their speech development? Here, I'll provide you with practical strategies to correct and model proper articulation, while also addressing when it may be necessary to seek professional help from a speech pathologist. Let's explore how you can be a speech-supporting superhero!

1. Have Frequent Conversations and Be an Attentive Listener: Create a language-rich environment by engaging in regular conversations with your child. Talk about their interests, narrate daily activities, and encourage them to express themselves. When your child speaks, give them your undivided attention. Be patient, allowing them to finish their thoughts without interruption. As cute as it may sound, skip "baby talk." By speaking with them as a valued communication partner, you’ll set a strong foundation for communicative confidence, risk-taking, and mistake-making.

2. Model Correct Articulation: Modeling is an effective way to help your child develop correct articulation. Repeat their words or sentences back to them, emphasizing clear pronunciation. However, avoid directly correcting their errors, as it can lead to frustration. Instead, provide indirect modeling by rephrasing their statement with the correct articulation, without drawing attention to their mistake. For example, if your child says, "Uhh, ah ma dih-saur inna tar eh I go geh ih?" You can reply, "Yes! Your dinosaur is in the car! Sure, you can go get it."

3. Encourage Active Listening: Active listening skills are essential for speech development. Engage your child in activities that enhance their listening skills, such as reading books together, playing auditory games, or listening to age-appropriate podcasts or audio stories. These activities promote attentive listening, improve critical thinking skills, and contribute to the overall ability to self-monitor their own speech.

4. Incorporate Speech-Enhancing Activities: Integrate speech-enhancing activities into your daily routine. Sing songs, recite rhymes, and engage in tongue twisters that target specific sounds. Explore my free downloads and target sounds that are most difficult. Create silly games that keep their interest and attention.

5. Recognize Communication Milestones: Familiarize yourself with typical communication milestones for your child's age. If you notice significant delays or persistent difficulties in speech and language development, it may be appropriate to seek professional guidance from a speech pathologist. They can assess your child's abilities, provide targeted intervention, and guide you with specific strategies to support their unique needs.

Creating a positive and supportive environment is crucial for your child's speech development. Celebrate their efforts, regardless of any mistakes or mispronunciations. Offer praise and encouragement to boost their confidence and motivation. Remember that each child develops at their own pace. With your love, patience, and supportive guidance, you can empower your child on their journey towards confident and effective speech.

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