Ridge Zeller Therapy’s, Nadia Miller, M.S., CCC-SLP, shares, in her first of a series of blog posts, several insightful tips and simple activities to help parents assist their young children in growing their speech and language skills on a budget:
Encourage Language Development with This Fun Game!
Unfortunately, most of us parents don’t have a lot of time or money to spend planning activities that our kids will enjoy and that will help grow their speech and language skills.
This blog series is here to help!
I’ve compiled a list of easy and fun activities as well as helpful tips you can do at home that can expand your child’s speech and language skills.
This week’s activity: Treasure Hunt
Grab some bags or baskets and go on a treasure hunt through your house, yard, or neighborhood.
Outside – look for pine cones, sticks, rocks, leaves, etc. or hide some real or fake coins/jewels
Inside – look for hidden toys, coins, stickers, fake jewels etc.
Kids love searching for stuff … even sticks! Make it more fun by bringing real or fake binoculars. Your child will be learning new vocabulary as you search for and label treasures. Describing the items is another great idea (i.e. “Can you find something blue and shiny?”)
If you have extra time: Pour out all the stuff you found and talk about it or turn it into a collage!
Language tip: Use describing words such as big, little, brown, old, shiny, etc.
Money/time saving tip: Stock up on treasures online, from your local dollar store, or dollar section at Target.
Want to Support Language Development at Home?
Less is more – Lessen the amount of toys you have available to your child. Too many toys can be distracting. Put some toys away and cycle them out when you think your child has become disinterested. Bonus: This can save you some money as you won’t always have to be buying new stuff to keep your little one happy!!
Boxes, bins, baskets, oh my! – Put some of your child’s favorite toys out of reach but in sight in a container of your choice. This will encourage them to request an object they want. This can be by pointing, using a single word, or a simple sentence. The key is that they are communicating.
Read, read, read – Read to your kids daily and have books available for them to look through. Pointing out new vocabulary from books is a wonderful way to expand your child’s vocabulary.
Expand on what they say – If your child is pointing at the blocks on the table, by simply saying “blocks” or “want blocks”, you are providing them with a model to expand on their gesture. Another example: if your kiddo is saying “more” for everything, pair “more” with the desired object (i.e. parent says “more banana”} .
Repetition is the key to success – Repeating words multiple times will help your child learn that word faster. You may feel like a broken record by the end of the day, but I promise it will pay off.
Be the narrator of your life – Talking about what you’re doing is a great way to expand your child’s verbal output. For example: “Let’s go brush your teeth, good brushing, brush the top and the bottom, brush, brush, brush,”
Important note: Don’t expect your children to speak in perfect sentences until they’re ready. A word approximation “ba” for “ball” may be all that they can do for now and it is better than saying nothing. Praise what they can do, then provide them with an expanded or corrected model (i.e. child says “ba” parent says “red ball”).
*** Additional Reading: Parent’s Guide to Speech and Language Development at Home ***
What other speech-language enhancing activities might you recommend?
What “words” did your child find on their treasure hunt?
Please share your experiences in the comment section below.