One of the most important things to do is to avoid any negative comments about your child’s speech. If your child is stuttering, don’t pressurize them. Instead, follow the below tips:
Encourage conversation: Ask your child thought-provoking things like, “What would you do if you have a bird for a friend?” By asking questions that extort detailed response, you are encouraging your child to express their ideas.
Listen carefully. Listen to your child with attention even if they are taking time to complete their sentences. When you are listening, your child gets the confidence to speak. They try their best to talk fluently.
You can try this exercise: Get your child and their friends or siblings together and make a circle. Whisper a sentence to one child, and they will pass it on to the other and so on. Ultimately, the sentence announced by the last child should be the same that you told the first child.
Make your child read: Buy some interesting story books or pick up a news piece that is of interest to your child and ask them to read it aloud. Tell them to repeat it twice or thrice. Such activities foster speaking as well as language skills.
Do an assessment: Evaluate your child and see in which areas your child is delayed. This will help you know if speech issues are standalone or are connected with other developmental problems. You can analyze by comparing your child’s performance with the normal milestones in children of that age.
Target areas: Choose specific problem areas that you want to address and resolve. Keep the goals achievable both for you and your child. Focus on age-specific goals that the children of that age normally reach.
Address one sound at a time: Begin with breaking down a problem into simpler and smaller versions and then teaching them specifically.
If you want to teach your child how to use the f sound correctly, start by showing them how to utter the sound first (fff), then teach syllables (fuh/ oof), then move on to words (f for fish) and finally use those words in sentences and conversation.
You can try several activities to improve your child’s speech. But remember that your child should enjoy them. They may not cooperate if they feel bored.
[ Read: Communication Disorders In Children ]
Speech Therapy Activities And Exercises
Each of the exercises we share below engages the child and stimulates speech production.
1. Flashcards and question cards
Place a few flashcards with pictures in front of your child and ask them to say what they see on the card. Start with a few cards and increase the pictures as you progress. If your child struggles with certain words, you will understand where you need to invest more time.
Question cards have simple questions for children. Choose one card at a time and slow down to have a conversation. This can be a grand strategy to pull your child into a conversation.
The questions can be like, “If you were to receive one present right now, what would it be?”/ “If you could change one thing about school, what would that be
2 mirror exercise
Mirrors provide visual feedback. Most children with articulation problem do not know how to move their mouth to form sounds accurately. Speaking in front of a mirror helps a child watch how they move their mouth when making that particular sound.
Stand in front of the mirror and produce each sound for your child. Then, help them discern the differences through the mirror.
3. Hop and speak
This game makes your child repeat the word nine times. Start with the words you want your kid to practice.
Draw hopscotch with 1-9 numbers and ask the child to utter the word each time they hop on a number. Once they complete hopping up to 9, change the word and let them hop again, this time with the new word.
You can begin with fewer words and increase them gradually.
Once they complete the game by saying the words correctly, reward them with a gift. This increases the child’s confidence.
[ Read: Dyslexia In Children ]
4. Play catch
Take a ball and throw it back and forth. Play catch with your kid as they practice their words. This way they are doing two exercises at a time.
5. Go for a walk
If you are walking somewhere with your kid, have them take one step ahead for every correct repetition. You may try this when you are in a park or entering your house.
In addition to playing such games with your child, you need to make them exercise their oral muscles
A few other exercises for oral motor skills
- Blow bubbles
Let your child blow bubbles for breath-control as well as for the lips. It makes children purse their lips, which is an oral motor exercise.
5. Tune the harmonica
Blowing the harmonica helps in breath-control and lip-pursing. If your kid’s breath-control is weak, have them make louder sounds from the harmonica, and if their lip strength is weak, focus on playing one note at a time.
6. Peanut butter
Who doesn’t love peanut butter? Rub some on the child’s lips and have them lick it. Apply the butter from one corner to the other so that the tongue reaches from one side to another.
Besides these activities, you can encourage your kid to talk and develop their speech with simple activities right from their infancy.