Speech Therapy at Home: Tips & Strategies for Parents to Try
The Importance of Speech Therapy | Speech Needs | Creating a Supportive Environment at Home | Tips and Strategies for Speech Therapy at Home | When to Seek Professional Help | Using Forbrain
If you’re a parent who’s concerned with your child’s speech and language development, one of the best things you can do to help is to use speech therapy strategies at home during daily routines.
Practicing therapy exercises at home is critical for helping children with communication difficulties make progress. This provides consistency and reinforces skills learned in therapy.
Speech Therapy sessions are certainly important. However, they are usually held once or twice a week for 30 or 60 minutes. Children need to practice more than that in order to progress their skills.
Home speech therapy activities can be personalized according to a child’s needs and interests to encourage motivation and generalization of skills to a variety of environments.
Incorporating speech therapy strategies and exercises at home can help a child with mild delays improve their skills to an age-appropriate level. Children who have articulation errors can make more progress at a faster rate when they practice speech sounds at home throughout the week.
Understanding the Importance of Speech Therapy at Home
Parents play a vital role in supporting their child’s speech development by serving as a child’s primary language model. Even during infancy, babies learn to learn and understand language by interacting with their parents.
By providing a rich language environment (in which they speak out loud and to their child often, introducing a variety of new words), parents help their children build a strong vocabulary. Having a robust vocabulary is critical for communication and academic success.
Clear communication skills are crucial for child development for reasons such as:
- Academic Success. Research shows that communication skills predict academic achievement.
- Social Interaction. There’s a proven correlation between a child’s language skills and their social skills. When a child can appropriately communicate, they can more competently interact with peers.
- Future Success. Developing strong communication skills during childhood can set a child up for success with their future career.
- Problem-solving and Critical Thinking: When a child can clearly communicate, he or she can express thoughts and ask questions. This allows them to analyze situations and determine solutions.
- Emotional Regulation: Having the ability to clearly communicate their feelings can better equip a child to regulate their emotions and reduce negative behaviors.
Parents can also help a child learn to have clear articulation of speech sounds by modeling correct pronunciation. They can interact face to face with their child to encourage him or her to look at the parent’s mouth to learn how to articulate sounds.
Consistent practice of speech therapy activities at home maximizes the benefits of speech therapy by accelerating a child’s progress through ways such as:
- Increasing frequency of practice. A child can have more repetitions of practicing speech sounds or language skills, which can encourage improved learning of these skills.
- Reinforcement of therapeutic goals. Children learn to apply and practice communication skills into their home environment.
- Generalization. Home practice allows a child to practice skills they learned in speech therapy to their home environment and real-life situations.
- Improved motivation. Children are often motivated to practice skills during functional, daily activities that tune in to their personal interests.
- Increased parent engagement. By practicing speech therapy at home, parents become more aware of therapy goals and strategies. This engagement allows them to better understand their child’s strengths and difficulties when it comes to their language development. They can play a more active daily role in supporting their child’s skills.
Assessing Your Child’s Speech Needs
It’s essential for parents to recognize the signs of a speech or language delay so their child can benefit from early identification and timely intervention.
Parents can keep track of the expected speech and language milestones for their child’s age. Comparing these developmental expectations to their child’s skills helps a parent recognize if their child may have a delay.
Your child might also benefit from Speech Therapy if any of the following apply:
- His or her speech is difficult to understand
- Teachers have expressed concerns with your child’s communication skills
- Your child appears to be frustrated or have negative behaviors due to their difficulty communicating
If you are concerned with your child’s articulation or language skills, you should consult with your child’s pediatrician. A pediatrician can write a referral for a comprehensive evaluation by a Speech Therapist.
Creating a Supportive Environment at Home
Parents can set up an environment at home to support their child’s speech and language development through changes to their physical space and in how they interact.
Speech therapy practice can happen anytime, anywhere at home. For example, at bathtime, snacktime, storytime, or during play.
However, it can be helpful to have a designated space where you and your child can engage in speech therapy activities. This could be a small table or special area of their room. That way, the child might be less distracted by things around them and stay more engaged in the activity.
It’s also important to provide a positive and encouraging atmosphere for a child to practice their speech and language skills.
Gentle corrections of speech sound errors, modeling correct grammar, and using a rich vocabulary at home are all ways you can support your child’s communication skills.
16 Tips and Strategies for Speech Therapy at Home
Promoting Language Use and Expression
These activities encourage a child to develop their use of language and communicate verbally.
- Narrate daily routines. Talk out loud often at home to provide your child with a model verbal expression.
- Offer choices. Limit the amount of yes/no questions you ask your child and instead, offer choices. For example, “do you want blocks or bubbles?” will encourage a child to say words beyond just “yes” or “no”.
- Modify your environment. Put toys away in clear containers. That encourages the child to come to you to communicate what they want or need.
- Stop before anticipating their needs. Hold back from anticipating your child’s needs and instead, wait for them to communicate. For example, Instead of opening a snack container right away, hand it to your child while it’s closed to encourage him or her to ask you for help.
Enhancing Articulation and Pronunciation Skills
Improve your child’s speech clarity through activities like these.
- Playing games with the target sound. Choose board games that allow your child to practice a sound that’s difficult for them. For example, you can practice “P” in the “Pop the Pig” game or “L” in “Chutes and Ladders.”
- Use a mirror. Take turns with your child naming words that start with a sound they need to practice. Model how to say the sound, then encourage your child to say the word while looking in the mirror.
- Arts & crafts. Make a craft that relates to the sound your child needs to practice saying. Talk about it together as you help your child make it. For example, you can make a tissue paper flower to practice the “F” sound.
Building Vocabulary and Language Skills
There are several creative ways you can expand your child’s vocabulary and understanding of language.
- Read books. Read out loud, pausing throughout the story to ask your child to point to pictures of words you name. Choose books that contain a variety of different subjects and vocabulary. Point to pictures as you name them.
- Give directions. Ask your child to follow simple directions daily. Make them more challenging by giving directions that have several steps, like “go get your shoes and bring them to dad”.
Developing Listening and Auditory Skills
These activities can enhance a child’s auditory processing and comprehension skills.
- Story Retelling. After reading a story or listening to a podcast for children, ask the child to retell you the story. Ask specific questions to check the child’s comprehension.
- Household activities. Ask your child to complete a set of tasks at home in a certain order. For example, give the steps involved in setting the table or doing chores and ask your child to follow them.
Encouraging Social Interaction and Conversation
Here are some strategies for promoting social communication and conversation skills.
- Role play and pretend play. Create scenarios that require your child to practice applying social communication skills. For example, use toy figures to act out talking to a friend about your day. Or, role play being a customer and store worker engaging in a conversation.
- Play turn-taking games. Playing turn taking board games at home allows a child to practice social skills as you coach them. For example children practice waiting and taking turns as they should in conversations. They also get to practice skills like having appropriate reactions to winning or losing a game.
Incorporating Speech Practice into Daily Routines
Parents can integrate speech therapy activities seamlessly into everyday activities that can be fun and engaging for kids in ways like these.
Use Strategies During Daily Routines
Put sticky notes around the house reminding you to use language stimulation strategies during daily routines with your child. For example, an “offer choices” note on the fridge can remind you to do something like asking your child if he or she wants “milk or juice?”, a strategy that can increase their vocabulary.
As you engage in daily activities like diaper changes, sing songs that have repetitive lines (like “Old McDonald Had a Farm”). Encourage your child to sing along, imitate words, and try pausing to see if he or she will fill in the blank with a part of the song.
Take going to places like the park or the library as an opportunity to coach your child through using appropriate social communication skills. Encourage him or her to say “hi” to peers, take turns appropriately, and engage in conversations.
Utilizing Technology and Online Resources
Speech therapy apps, websites, and digital tools can be useful in motivating your child to work on their speech and language skills at home. It’s important to research which ones are most appropriate for your child and their needs. Here are some to consider:
- Smarty Ears Apps: This is a collection of apps that target speech and language skills such as articulation, vocabulary, and social skills.
- Articulation Station: A popular app designed to help a child practice certain speech sounds within interactive games.
- Kokolingo: A website that contains over 300 different games and activities for children to practice articulating speech sounds. It can be accessed on any computer, tablet, or smartphone.
- Khan Academy: This educational website offers activities that target various subjects (such as language arts, science, and math). The activities can be used to target language skills like reading comprehension, following directions, and sentence formulation.
- Forbrain: Forbrain, a brain training device designed to improve communication skills, has a website that offers valuable resources. Parents can find tools for practicing speech therapy at home, such as word lists for various sounds that can be used to work on articulation. There’s also a blog with helpful tips for parents.
- Language Adventures: An app that provides a comprehensive set of language-based activities that target a child’s grammar, vocabulary, and sentence structure.
Tracking Progress and Celebrating Achievements
It’s important for parents to monitor a child’s speech development and recognize milestones because this can lead to a child making more progress.
Monitoring can lead to early detection of potential speech and language delays, facilitate timely intervention through Speech Therapy, and improve a child’s social and emotional development.
Once a child is receiving speech therapy, parents should continue to track their progress to provide valuable input to the therapist regarding the child’s need for working on specific goals.
And don’t forget to celebrate achievements! Recognizing your child’s improving speech and language skills can encourage both them and you to continue using therapy techniques and activities.
Recognizing When to Seek Professional Help
Because parents know their child best, observing how your child is reaching expected speech and language milestones can help you identify signs that may indicate the need for professional intervention.
Recognizing that need is crucial to start getting your child the intervention he or she may need as early as possible so that your child can have the best opportunity possible at improving their communication skills.
If parents have concerns, they should consult with a Speech Therapist. A therapist who is qualified to address complex speech and language issues can perform a comprehensive assessment and provide recommendations for home strategies and activities to implement.
Benefits of Forbrain in Speech Therapy at Home
Incorporating technology and innovative Speech Therapy tools like Forbrain can help parents practice their child’s speech and language skills with them at home.
Forbrain is an auditory stimulation headset that uses a dynamic filter to modulate the sound of your voice, analyze and enhance it, and immediately transmit the sounds back to you. Forbrain is designed to retrain the brain’s auditory feedback loop to enhance auditory processing, improve articulation, boost vocal clarity, and promote overall communication skills.
Using speech therapy strategies at home enables parents to accelerate their child’s progress towards improving their speech and language skills.
Home speech therapy practices allow a child to practice skills more often and during daily routines, which are often motivating and encourage carryover of skills learned in therapy.
By remaining proactive in supporting your child’s speech development, you can have a lasting positive impact on your child’s life.
Mahyuddin, R. & Elias, H.. (2010). The correlation between communication and social skills among early schoolers in Malaysia. Read more.
Masrai, A., & Milton, J. (2016). Recognition Vocabulary Knowledge and intelligence as predictors of academic achievement in EFL context. Read more.
Ramsook, K. A., et al. (2020). What you say, and how you say it: Preschoolers’ growth in vocabulary and communication skills differentially predict kindergarten academic achievement and self-regulation. Read more.