Speech and ways to promote it
Other than gorgeous children’s clothes, what else can I offer you?
A Senior Nursery Nurse with 18 years worth of ideas and advice, quite a lot :)
Each month I will try and provide you with a few activities you can do with your children and some practical know how to support your child’s development.
OK lets go!
Speech – Many parents have concerns over their child’s speech. It may be that they are yet to talk or the words they are forming are lacking clarity. In many situations this is simply a matter of time. No child or parent should feel pressurised by those around them and should simply be given the tools and information to tackle the situation head on.
There are many simple activities that you can do with your child to develop their speech and language skills.
- Be a good model – speak slowly and clearly and face your child when speaking. If your child says a word or sentence incorrectly, rather than correct them or ask them to repeat it, just say the word / sentence back to them correctly to show you have understood. This way your child always hears the correct version. This is how children learn language.
- Remember your language level – don’t use words or sentences that your child will not understand. Speak to them using language they can understand, and explain any new words.
- Make time to sit down with your child – even if it is just for a few minutes a day (although the more one-to-one time the better), spend some quiet time with your child, away from distractions. Look at a book together and talk about the pictures.
- Turn off the TV and take out the dummy – children do not learn language and social skills by watching TV or playing on the iPad, and new evidence shows that too much TV watching prior to starting school can affect listening and attention skills, which will impact on their learning once they start school.
- Observe and comment – when you are playing with your child, take a step back, do not feel that you have to fill the silences, just comment on the things your child is doing so they can here (and learn) the new vocabulary.
- Let your child lead – let your child lead the play, let them be the boss of play. This can build self-confidence and does not put pressure on them to talk and respond to the adult all the time.
- Books, books, books – books can be used in many ways to develop language and early literacy skills. Evidence shows that children that have more exposure to books prior to schooling often find it develop early literacy skills earlier.
- Sing songs and nursery rhymes – songs and rhymes contain rhythm and rhyme, skills that help with speech and literacy development.
- Feed language in, don’t force it out – comment and expand on your child’s words and sentences, rather than asking them to repeat words. If your child says “car”, respond with “big car” or “yellow car” or “fast car”. This is how children learn words, by hearing new vocabulary and linking it to the items or events they are focusing on.
- Make every opportunity a language learning activity – if it’s a trip to the shops, or bath-time, you can make every activity a language learning activity. Point to things, name them, sing a nursery rhyme, or ask an open ended questions (Why, what, who questions that require more than a yes or no answer). You don’t have to set aside a specific time of day to learn language, every activity is a language learning activity
Makaton is a language programme using signs and symbols to help people to communicate. It is designed to support spoken language and the signs and symbols are used with speech, in spoken word order.
It’s an amazing tool that allows even littlest of children to communicate as demonstrated in the clip below:
As you can see even though this little boy’s speech is not completely developed by using Makaton he is able to communicate his needs to him mother. I would suggest that when using Makaton you clearly say the words you are signing. This is a tool to support speech not replace unless the child has a specific learning need.
Here are some useful links
I CAN is the children’s communication charity. We are experts in helping children develop the speech, language and communication skills they need to thrive in a 21st century world. Our vision is a world where all children have the communication skills they need to fulfil their potential. Our mission is that no child should be left out or left behind because of a difficulty speaking or understanding.
NCT – Nation Childbirth Trust Charity
At 18 to 24 months, children try out new things and explore the world around them more actively. They will often choose their own activities and may not always like being told what to do which can lead to toddler tantrums.