Using simple sounds, reading books, speaking simply, using colors and shapes, singing, introducing new words, using hand gestures and turning everything into a speech learning activity are some of the effective speech therapy activities for kids.
All children don’t learn at the same pace. Every child has his/her own rhythm of internalizing things and learning them. Therefore, if your child doesn’t start speaking around the time you expect him or her to, don’t get worried immediately; it is most likely not a sign of speech impediment. However, there are things- practices and speech therapy activities that you can adopt in order to increase the chances of your child speaking early.
19 Best Speech Therapy Activities for Kids
Here is a list of some of the most effective speech therapy activities you can adopt for your child to start speaking and understating early on:
Use simple sounds
Using simple sounds like “da” and “ma” or “ba” and “aa” or “ooh” to babies even when they are newborn promote sound perception really early on. These vowels and consonants have a great response from children, since they are easy to memorise and imitate. These simple speech therapy activities help your child to talk. As they grow, they listen and try to imitate you.
Let go of the myth that TV promotes speech
Many studies by experts have revealed that the TV, in fact, has nothing to do with making children understand language or speak. Human contact is the only way your child can learn to speak and understand. Therefore, having your TV on constantly around your toddler is probably not helping as much as you think it is.
Be vocal about everything
When you are interacting with your child while bathing him, dressing him, feeding him, or even if you are just walking together, always talk to them. Be vocal about what you are doing. For example, you can try describing each step of the bathing process while going about it. Keep talking to your child using simple language, and you will be surprised at how quickly he picks up vocabulary.
As part of an effective speech therapy plan, always read books out to your baby. There are many specially designed colorful books available in the market for toddlers. Pick up and bunch of them and sit down with your toddler to read them out loud while showing the pictures. This helps with the ability of your child to identify things and associate objects with their names. Your child will learn to understand and speak in an accelerated rate through this simple activity.
Play with your Child
Playing with a child is one of the best ways of communicating with him, even when he doesn’t know how to talk. Playing improves the communication and coordination between parents and their child, and also helps develop the motor skills of the child. Additionally, your child will also spend a lot of time with you and this will improve your bond with him.
Read More: 39 Developmental Activities for Toddlers
When you are talking to your baby, speak in very simple language and be friendly. Your child picks up not just on language but also on the way you speak and your behavior as well. You must therefore be careful and talk to him in friendly tones and use simple words which he can easily understand and grasp. This will help him learn language fast.
Use colours and shapes
This is a good time to introduce your child to new colours and shapes. Describe to your child everything that surrounds him, encourage show-and-tell activities and make sure that his play area is surrounded by lots and lots of colourful toys and play equipment. Gently point out the shape and colour of an object as your child picks it up. Do this repeatedly and your child will eventually learn to differentiate between objects and shapes soon enough.
Music and Children Songs as part of Speech Therapy
Playing music, singing children’s songs and nursery rhymes around your child as much as you can. This will engross him in this activity, and soon he will be singing along with you. At first you must expect only short sounds and some tune, but soon he will be forming complete words as part of the song and then whole sentences. This will lead him to learn new words. As he gets older he will also understand the meaning of these songs and rhymes.
Introduce new words to your child
Children learn mostly from picking up bits and pieces from the conversation of elders. When your child learns to say simple words like “toy” or “doll”, introduce them to new words. New words also bring to them new concepts. For example, point to a big toy and say “big toy”. Your child will soon learn that any object that is noticeably larger than others can be called “big”.
Teach your child to ask for things
When participating in an activity with your child, teach them to ask for things, such as, “May I have the crayon?” or “May I eat this apple?”. The benefit of this activity is twofold: your child will learn to use words and sentences as part of this activity and you can use this method to teach good manners to your child.
Communicate with your Child
When your child is trying to say something, you need to encourage him my making eye contact. This indicates to him that you’re listening to him, and what he’s saying is important to you. This will encourage him to learn more and communicate with you, which means he will pay more attention to learning to speak.
Teach the “magical words”
“Thank you” and “Please” are magical words, and you must teach their use to your child as early as possible. Whenever you are talking to your child, use the words “please” and “thank you” whenever you can. This will help incorporate politeness and good behavior into your child from the onset and you can be sure that your child will grow up into a cultured individual.
When speaking something or singing rhymes to your child, use a lot of hand gestures such as waving, clapping, imitating movement, etc. Such movements will attract the child’s attention and he will learn to associate hand gestures and their meaning with the corresponding words.
Be a good role model
Kids tend to follow whoever they see the most; they imitate them. This is the reason why children imitate their parents the most, and especially the mother. It is your duty, therefore, to be a good role model to your kid and speak clearly and politely for them to understand. They will pick up on your way of speaking and mannerisms soon enough.
When you are playing with your child, you don’t constantly have to keep talking. You can just sit back and observe and help him or her build his or her blocks quietly. Comment whenever necessary and your child will pay attention to you.
When playing with your child, let him or her lead the conversation. You don’t always have to initiate talking; he will learn to talk to you by himself. Just listen to what your child wants to say and give appropriate responses. This will teach him to conduct a conversation and he will learn to initiate conversations as well.
Give him/her time
Children are the most comfortable with their parents. The more you sit down with him or her, the more he or she is going to want to talk to you, and this will improve his or her speaking skills.
Try to turn everything into a speech therapy activity
When you are going shopping with them or at bath time or at meal times, point out objects to your child and name them, or describe an action someone is doing- this is how they learn things.
Create or find worksheets that have many different pictures of common vocabulary words on them. Start with some pages with simple words (basic school vocabulary) and then have sheets with increasingly difficult words. You could start with basic school vocabulary and then try words from different categories.
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.
These are some speech therapy activities you can follow to improve word retrieval and speaking skills of your child. Additionally, if you think your child is not speaking fast enough, try and be patient with him and encourage him with a lot of talking and hearing exercises. The more you interact with your child, the more the chances are of him picking up on vocabulary and speech.