In honor of Better Hearing & Speech Month in May, the team of speech-language pathologists at The Warren Center are encouraging parents of young children to take this extended time at home to improve their children’s communication development. Parents with concerns about their child’s speech and language development should seek assistance from a speech-language pathologist as soon as possible. Many young children experience communication delays, which are highly treatable with early detection.
For parents and caregivers of young children who are currently receiving early intervention services by a speech-language pathologist (SLP), they may be concerned about their child’s progress during this interruption caused by COVID-19. However, there are simple ways to continue speech therapy exercises at home.
“Making dinner, bath time, or taking a walk around the neighborhood are great opportunities to introduce new objects, ask your child questions, and make conversation—all of which contribute to children’s speech and language development,” said Amy Spawn, CEO of The Warren Center. “Incorporating just five- to 10-minute activities into your child’s everyday routine can be helpful. And if that amount is all you can do right now, don’t be hard on yourself. Even a small amount of time can yield big results.”
Speech-Language Pathologists from The Warren Center recommend these simple ways to keep up speech and language skill therapies at home.
• Teach or reinforce ways to follow directions throughout the day. Get your child’s attention, make sure they are looking at you, and talk them through the steps to take when getting dressed, washing hands, brushing teeth, or picking up toys. You can also create a picture or sign with the list of steps for these common daily tasks. Other easy at-home practice opportunities include cooking and baking, scavenger hunts, or playing games like Simon Says.
• Sing Songs and Learn Rhymes. Young children love music. Singing nursery rhyme songs like Row, Row, Row Your Boat, and Wheels on the Bus teaches them about different sounds and words. Singing songs and hearing rhymes also helps children learn to read.
• More time at home means more time for reading. Families can read to each other and find different types of books available online through their local libraries. To help young readers, try playing rhyming and word games.
• Summarize. Schedule a telephone call or virtual chat between your child and their grandparent, other family members, or a friend to talk about their daily activities or a book they’ve read. Can your child speak briefly on the highlights of the day or the main events in a book?
• Get creative. Creative resources are simply a click away, there are now many online tutorials for cooking, dance or art lessons to help get your child’s creative juices flowing. Offline activities that will spark creativity while practicing language skills include having a child pick out items around the house to create their own shop; planning an indoor camp out (e.g., making a list of what they’ll need, ideas for things they want to do); or planting a garden.