May is Better Speech and Hearing Month. CDI’s speech therapists work with children and their families to improve communication, reduce auditory delays, and tackle oral-motor and feeding challenges. Parents often wonder what they can do at home to improve their child’s communication skills.
Here are ten activities to promote your child’s speech and hearing skills:
Treasure hunt with words or pictures. You can do this around the house of garden. Keep it simple. Give your child some hints. When he finds a card, have him say the item written or drawn on the card while looking at you. Continue until all the cards have been found. This helps develop eye contact, communication, pronunciation and symbol or word recognition.
Involve your child in activities of everyday life. Any interaction between parent and child is an opportunity to improve communication. Housekeeping, cooking, grocery shopping are all activities that a child can actively participate in. Talk through your process, and ask your child questions about what he sees or does.
Public places I-Spy game. Parks, malls and beaches are all great venues for people-watching. Point out people, objects and actions you notice. Have your child take turns with you, and turn it into an “I-Spy” game. This activity will promote social observations, descriptive vocabulary and turn-taking.
Tell Me What to Do. This game is fun for kids. Pick an activity your child knows how to do. Tell your child that you need to do the activity but you don’t remember how. He has to tell you exactly what to do. The activity can be a game you play, or an object you have to seek and fetch. Get him to give you detailed instructions.
What’s that sound. This is a great listening game. Take turn making an animal sound and the other person has to guess what animal the sound belongs to. You can also cut out images from magazines of things and animals that make sounds and glue them onto little cards. These can be used as prompts for the game.
Finish the story. Come up with a simple story, and take turns adding to it with your child. For example, you might open with “Once upon a time there was a prince.” The child would then add something about the prince. You might follow with something about the setting. Your child could then say something about the plot, and so on…
Talk, Talk, Talk. When it comes to babies, experts agree that parents should spend time face to face with their child, talking and sharing the world in a descriptive and engaging manner. Babies love to have their sounds echoed back at them. It’s also important to speak about emotions. Children need to see their emotions reflected back to them, and they need to hear the words that explain how they feel. This simple technique can help them develop an emotional vocabulary and regulation.
Swing and talk. If your child tolerates swinging, consider working on speech skills while he swings. You can sing the alphabet song. Face him so that there’s eye contact, every time he comes towards you say one letter, or take turns with him saying one letter at a time. You can do the same thing with songs like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” counting from 0-10, or touching a part of your body that your child then has to name.
Flashlight game. This is another favorite! Tape pictures or words (if your child reads) on a wall. Make the room dark. Take turn with your child holding a flashlight and lighting up a picture or word. Have your child say the word he sees.
Bubbles. Children of all ages love bubbles! Therapists love them because it’s a fun way to work on many essential skills. Bubbles promote eye-contact through anticipation. It can be used to promote speech by making the child request more or telling you where he wants the bubbles. Teaching how to blow bubbles also works on your child’s oral-motor skills.
We hope you’ll have fun with some of these activities. Speech, hearing and feeding delays are best addressed as early as possible. If you suspect your child has some speech, hearing or feeding challenges, please contact CDI for more information.