When providing home health services, I am encouraged to create home programs that address speech/language goals for parents to follow.
However, I like to encourage realistic home activities. With families constantly “on the move” and busy therapy schedules, I know adding another thing to an already full plate can be challenging.
Here are 5 simple ways to encourage speech and language at home:
This is probably my favorite method! It is definitely not one that requires special materials or time in your day. Simply narrate your actions and vocabulary in your immediate surroundings. For example, “I am taking out the trash” “I am opening the car door.” “I am closing the car door.” You may feel a little crazy, but it is beneficial for children to have that receptive language input.
- Creating Opportunities
I know children often move at one pace (even when you’ve told them three times you are running late). However, if you take a LITTLE extra time in your day to day activities, and create opportunities, you would be surprised how rich in language this technique can be. Creating opportunities is perfect for making requests, and overall improving expressive language.
For example, your child wants a drink. Okay! You grab a empty cup and give it to them. Now they request milk/juice/water/etc. You hand them the jug. They request you to open/pour the drink. You just took one request and turned it into 3!
- Reading Picture Books
Whether your child is verbal or not, READ. I really want to stress that it is not just reading books, but discussing the pictures. Ask your child to point to certain objects in the pictures (i.e. “touch the whale”) or describe the picture scene yourself (“the whale is swimming”).
Even if you feel like you have read a story ten times already, it can still be beneficial! The repetition of words can aide your child in understanding the vocabulary.
- Using Preferred activities
If your child loves watching a particular show, use it as a learning lesson! Popular movies and shows can be perfect for targeting language (especially social language!). You can use scenes from your child’s favorite TV show to address a variety of language needs. For example labeling actions, labeling emotions, pronouns, etc.!
Encouraging your child to spend time in the kitchen following a simple recipe can be beneficial for both receptive and expressive language skills! In therapy, I use cooking to target following one, two, and three-step directions, making requests, understanding safety rules, auditory recall (remembering what ingredients are listed), and increasing vocabulary. Check out this blog post written by Katie Sullivan, M.S., SLP-CC to see a list of home program kitchen activities for children of all ages: