Facilitating the Development of Speech and Language Skills During Home Learning
As we continue to work through this new normal of home learning, I wanted to take a moment to update you on ways to promote articulation, vocabulary, grammar, and social language skills. As you work with your child on a daily basis, you are probably doing more than you think to promote these skills! Speech and language skills are imbedded in phonics, comprehension, writing, play, and game playing! I have updated my daily schedule to reflect a variety of activities that practice these skills in a fun, creative way. As always, if you are looking for specific activities for your child, please get in touch with me. Take care, and be well!
Here are some suggested speech activities to try at home after your child has begun therapy:
- Go on a “Sound Walk”. Hunt for things in or outside of the house that have the child’s speech sound.
- Look through magazines for pictures or words that have his/her speech sound.
- When driving, look for things with the child’s sound.
- Play 20 questions. Think of a word or object that has the child’s speech sound. Have the child ask questions to figure out what the object is. If that is too difficult, give the child clues and have him/her guess.
- Once your child can say the sound correctly in words, have him/her practice saying some of those words for you. When that becomes easy, have him/her say them in sentences.
- Spelling Search- Have the child search his/her spelling list for words that have his/her sound. Say them aloud.
- Silly Sentences- See who can make up the silliest sentence using one of your child’s speech words.
- Challenge Sentences- See who can make up the sentence using the most words containing the speech sound.
- Tongue Twisters- Do you know a tongue twister that has your child’s speech sound? Can you and your child make some up?
- When your child is able to say his/her speech sound in words and sentences, have him/her begin to practice reading aloud using the sound correctly. For beginning readers, have the child read from his/her reading book or from storybooks. Try using poems, the Sunday Funnies, Comic Books, cereal boxes, signs, TV guide, video or board game instructions, or anything your child enjoys reading.
- Begin to encourage your child to use the sound correctly for short periods of time during the day. This is called “carryover”. Can your child carryover good speech every time he/she says his/her sibling’s name? His/Her pet’s name? His/her favorite food?
- Once your child is able to use good speech for longer periods of time, try these conversational activities.
- Make a phone call using good speech.
- Use good speech throughout supper.
- Use good speech in the car on the way to practice, lessons, or school.
- Use good speech while going over homework.
Other Ideas to Enhance Articulation Skills:
- Board games: This is a classic way of drilling with flashcards. This can be easily implemented by parents at home, as most children own some type of board game. The parents should also play the board game with the child so it is more motivating and special for the child. The parent should also draw an articulation flashcard and say the word to provide the child with auditory reinforcement of the correct production. The parent might want to say a word incorrectly on purpose once in a while so the child can catch him or her and correct the error - this teaches self-monitoring, and children love it when adults make mistakes and they can correct them.
- Memory card game: This is another simple way of making speech homework more fun. The parents simply use the flashcards provided by a speech and language pathologist to play a memory game. The child uncovers the flashcard and tries to get a match while doing articulation drills.
- Hopscotch: Parents can play this game in two different ways. One way is to actually draw a hopscotch court with chalk outside or to draw one on the piece of paper. The child will throw a rock or a paper wad (when playing the paper hopscotch) then say the word multiple times from the flashcard determined by the number the rock or the paper ball ended on.
- Bucket ball: Parents can play this game using multiple small buckets or cups. The targeted words are written on pieces of paper that are rolled into small balls. The child draws a paper ball, opens it and reads (or repeats) the targeted word. When produced correctly, the child can crumple the paper back into a ball and throw it into one of the buckets/cups.
- Egg hunt: Parents can write targeted words on pieces of paper and put the pieces inside plastic eggs. The child is asked to find the hidden eggs. Upon opening an egg, the child reads (or repeats) the words inside the egg.
- Lights out: Parents hide flashcards or written words on pieces of paper in a dark room and ask the child to find them using a flashlight. The child drills with the found words.
- Make up silly stories: This can be played by the whole family. Each family member draws a few flashcards or written words and makes up his or her own story. (Older children can write them down.) The family meets after a few minutes to listen to all the stories. The stories can be audio or video recorded so the child then can retell each story for more practice.
- Word challenge: This also can be played by the whole family. Each member is asked to come up with as many words as possible, starting or ending with given sound, within two minutes.
- Make up silly songs: Similar to making up silly stories but this time the child and/or family are asked to make up songs.
- Design your flashcards: This art project involves creating personalized flashcards with targeted words. The parents and children can draw, color in or cut out pictures from the magazines to create their own cool flashcards. Parents and children can then trade their cards to practice different phonemes (sounds) at the carrier phrase level (e.g., “ I will trade my rocket card with you,” etc).
- Design your own board game: This is another family art project. Children can create their own board games by drawing a board game inside a folder and decorating it with stickers, etc. The child plays his or her own game while drawing flashcards.
- Guess what?: The parent describes the targeted words and the child guesses the word (for example, “It is a yellow animal that quacks”).
- Draw or act out words: Same as above, but the targeted words are acted out or drawn.
- Design your own magazine: The child and parents can use the articulation flashcards provided by a speech and language pathologist or their own materials to create a magazine. The child is asked to come up with different short “articles” containing the targeted words.
- Create your own newsroom: Similar to the above, except the child is video recorded telling news stories involving targeted words. For example, the child could be asked to come up with news stories using the words “raccoons,” “rake” and “rain.”
Games, Ideas, and books to encourage language skills:
- Enrich vocabulary with language-based games such as I spy, Guess Who, 20 Questions, Memory, and Apples to Apples.
- There is a website, http://playonwords.com/ with lists of books, games, and toys that are recognized as ones that encourage language (look for the “all PAL Award winners” link on the left).
o Read a variety of books
- Label or point to pictures on the page
o Have your child describe what is happening on each page.
o Ask various WH questions (who, what, when, where, why, how do you know) about what is happening on the picture page and what may happen next.
o Sequence or retell the story with beginning, middle, and end
- Have fun conversations! For example, at dinner, discuss everything from daily events to what’s in each room of the house. Conversational skills, such as continuation of the topic and turn-taking are essential parts of speech and language.
- Know your child’s learning strengths and weaknesses. There are many forms of intelligence, including linguistic, kinesthetic [body], musical, artistic, logical, and social. Use your child’s strong areas to help speech and language develop. For example, if your child is gifted musically, let him/her sing a song to practice speech sounds.
- Play verbal games, such as:
- Guess What (Guess what has sharp teeth and orange/black stripes?)
- Yes or No ("Dogs have 2 feet", child says "no")
- Which One Doesn't Belong and Why?: ("apple, milk, banana")
- Categories: "sock, shirt, pants" (child says "clothes")
- Categories: Parent says "clothes", child says "socks, pants, shirts"
- "Hotter/Colder": hide something and guide with clues
- I Spy
- Play "Simon Says". Start out by being "Simon", giving directions like "touch your nose", "touch the floor", "clap your hands", "walk to the door" and work up to harder ones like "touch your knees and clap your hands", "put a jelly bean under the napkin," etc. Next, have your child be "Simon" and help him to give the directions if needed.
In early elementary grades K-2
- Talk with your child frequently
- Read a variety of books; read often and talk with your child about the story
- Help your child focus on sound patterns of words such as those found in rhyming games
- Have your child retell stories and talk about events of the day
- Talk with your child during daily activities; give directions for your child to follow (e.g., making cookies)
- Talk about how things are alike and different
- Give your child reasons and opportunities to write
In later elementary grades 3-5
- Continue to encourage reading; find reading material that is of interest to your child
- Encourage your child to form opinions about what he or she hears or reads and relate what is read to experiences
- Help your child make connections between what is read and heard at school, at home, and in other daily activities
- Talk aloud as you help your child understand and solve problems encountered in reading material
- Help your child recognize spelling patterns, such as beginnings and endings of words (e.g., pre- or -ment)
- Encourage your child to write letters, keep a diary, or write stories
Activities to promote Listening skills
(Taken from What is Auditory Processing? By Susan Bell and The Source for Processing Disorders by Gail J. Richard, PhD (2001))
- Use family trips and errands as a way for children to listen and learn. For example, on a trip to the supermarket, tell your child 3 or 4 items you need, then ask for them to be repeated or brought to you.
- To help with memory, break information into shorter "chunks" or segments, and pause between each segment. For example: "Put on your pajamas (pause), and wash your face (pause). Chunking spoken messages allows children more time to process or absorb the entire message.
- Get children's attention before you speak to them. Cue them to "tune in" by saying, "Susie, this is important..." or "Ryan, listen carefully-I'm going to tell you what to do." Vary the attention-getting phrases so the child doesn't begin to tune them out as well.
- Supplement what you say with something s/he can see, when this is possible. If you’re asking him/her to go to the table and get the backpack, you can also point to the backpack.
- Allow your child “thinking time” before you expect an answer to a question. The typical amount of time we expect between a question and an answer is 2-4 seconds. A rule of thumb is to count to 10 before you help answer a question. This is hard to do, but it’s probably the single most important strategy you can use.
- Feel free to repeat, rephrase or further explain what you’ve said to your child if you think it will help him/her understand (you should still give him plenty of time to respond).
**Borrowed from Amy Sellman, SLP from Pottstown School District, PA
Phonological Awareness and Decoding:
Social Skills Resources:
Grammar/ Spelling/Reading Comprehension/ Composition/ Vocabulary
Auditory Memory Games
Fluency Therapy Ideas
Word Finding Activities