SPEECH AND LANGUAGE IDEAS FOR YOUNG CHILDREN
By: Sheryl A. Balciar
Remember, you do not always have to set up structured times for your child to increase her speech and language skills. It can occur at anytime, at any place, with any person she is with. Use the idea of “incidental teaching,” which is using everyday routines to create learning experiences.
Talk to your child! Do not use baby talk, but rather use full words and sentences. For example, if she gets a ball and throws it to you, say “Oh, you want to play with the blue ball. Good throw! Are you ready? Here it comes! Yeah, you caught it! Way to go!” There is an opportunity for language at all times. Expect that.
Other ideas for “incidental teaching”:
1.) Label what you see, hear, feel, taste, and smell while you are cooking, playing, walking, shopping, cleaning, bathing, dressing, etc.
2.) Label your child’s body parts when taking a bath (e.g. “This is the way we wash our hair…”), getting dressed, changing diapers, etc. Children love the song “There’s a spider on your (part) on your (part).”
3.) When eating and drinking, sabotage your routines. For example, if eating a cracker, give your child a piece (not a whole cracker) and make her request “more” or “cracker” either with words, pictures, signs, or gestures.
4.) Read simple books to your child. Label the pictures and ask her to find them on the pages. Also, ask her what she sees in the pictures so she can label them. Books about animals are great for young children because you can model the sounds they make (e.g. moo, baa, oink, neigh, woof, meow, etc). These are easier than real words to produce.
5.) While playing, model the sounds cars and trucks make (e.g. vroom vroom, beep beep, honk honk, etc).
6.) When playing, use the action words (e.g. jumping, eating, drinking, driving, flying, etc) as well as the nouns you are playing with.
7.) Play simple games (e.g. tickling) and watch your child anticipate what is to come. Expect her to say what she wants (e.g. put your hands up like you are going to tickle her, but don’t until she says “tickle” or makes some sort of attempt).
8.) Bombard particular colors, concepts, vocabulary, initial sounds, etc each day. For example, have a “red day” where you wear red, eat red foods, play with red toys, etc. If bombarding a particular initial consonant, such as /b/, wear blue and black clothes, eat bananas and burgers on buns, bounce or bat a ball, bop balloons, etc.
9.) While grocery shopping, show her the foods you are buying and label them. Talk about the big/little ones, colors of foods, textures (soft, hard), etc.
10.) Teach understanding of words that will keep her safe (e.g. no, hot, stop, wait).
11.) Sing simple songs with repetitive lines and/or actions. Some examples are
Wheels on the Bus, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Itsy Bitsy Spider, etc.
12.) When eating colorful foods (rainbow goldfish crackers, fruit snacks, etc), give
one at a time and label each color, and/or have her identify a color (you say “Get
the red fish,” or ask her “What color did you get? Oh, you got the red fish!”).