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Speech and Language resources for families
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Language

Language refers to the words we use and how we use them to share ideas and get what we want. Language includes:

·      What words mean. Some words have more than one meaning. For example, “watch” can be something we wear on our wrist or something we do with our eyes.

·      How to make new words. For example, we can say “care,” “careful,” or “uncaring” and mean something different.

·      How to put words together. For example, in English we say, “Mark walked to the new school” instead of “Mark walk school new.”

·      What we should say at different times. For example, we might be polite and say, “Would you mind moving over?” But, if the person does not move, we may say, “Get over there!”

Receptive Communication activities you can do at home

·      Have your child follow directions of any type (ex: one step, two steps, before, after, first, then, next, last) or have your child give directions for you to follow.  Consider providing your child with a visual picture to model/guide each step.

·      Give your child silly directions to follow that involve everyday objects in the home such as, “Go get a sock, take it to the living room and throw it in the air.” “Show me where the baby sleeps then jump up and down.”

·      Give your child directions that include adjectives, attributes or categories such as, “Find something in the house that is round, red, small, etc,”  “Go get something in your room that is soft,”  “Take all your shoes and put them in the bathtub.”

·      Help your child learn to use prepositions with a shoebox and a variety of small toys.  Give your child directions such as, “Get the ball and put it under the box,”  “Put the car on the box,”  “Take the string and put it in the box.”

·      Line up the objects on top of the box, “Put the blue car in front of the red car,” “Point to the car that is first in the line.”

·      Use a Bingo board with real objects and have your child find objects that are above/below, next to, in between, on the top, on the bottom row.

·      Read a story or listen to a story with your child and point to pictures while you read to show characters, actions, setting.

Expressive Communication activities you can do at home

·      Have your child find something in the house and bring it over to you without letting you see it.  Have your child describe the hidden object by providing clues to describe the object’s category (is it a toy, a clothing item), the function/action of the object, appearance (size, shape, color), parts, location information, etc.

·      Find two items in your home that are similar (a toy car, a wagon, ball, frisbee).  Talk with your child about each item, talk about how the items are the same/different.

·      Play “I Spy” and name a category of items to encourage your child to find something in the room by providing clues by category (I spy something red, something small, something flat) Take turns providing clues to identify objects in the room.

·      Read a picture book and talk about the pictures in the story.  Ask your child questions about the pictures.  As you ask questions such as, “where,” point to the location in the picture.  Ask your child questions such as “where are they,” “what are they doing?” or “who is going to the park?”

·      Find a picture from a recent activity with the family.  Ask your child to give you details about the event.  Encourage your child to tell about the event using story order words such as First, Next, Then, Last.

·      Find a story with beautiful fantasy pictures.  Have your child create a story about the picture with new characters, telling about the setting, problem, solution and use dialogue for the characters in the story.

·      Play a game of building blocks or play with your child’s favorite toy.  Talk to your child about what you are making, narrate what you are doing or pretend to have they toys talk to each other.  Encourage your child to play along.

·      As you play, encourage your child to give more detail and expand sentences.  When your child says, “him can fly.”  Respond by modeling for your child, “Yes, he can fly high in the sky.”  When your child says, “uh oh, fall down.”  Model for your child, “The blocks fell down.  Do you think we can fix it?”

 

Social Language

Children may say words clearly and use long, complex sentences with correct grammar, but still have difficulty with communication - if he or she has not mastered the rules for social language known as pragmatics.  Pragmatics involve three major communication skills:

Using language for different purposes

·      greeting (e.g., hello, goodbye)

·      informing (e.g., I'm going to get a snack)

·      demanding (e.g., Give me a cookie)

·      promising (e.g., I'm going to get you a cracker)

·      requesting (e.g., I would like a drink, please)

Changing language according to the needs of a listener or situation

·      talking differently to a friend than to a parent

·      giving background information to an unfamiliar communication partner

·      speaking differently on that playground than at home

Following rules for conversations and storytelling

·      taking turns in conversation

·      introducing topics of conversation

·      staying on topic

·      rephrasing when misunderstood

·      how to use verbal and nonverbal signals

·      how close to stand to someone when speaking

·      how to use facial expressions and eye contact

These rules may vary across cultures and within cultures.

Social Language (Pragmatics) activities you can do at home

·      Choose any game you may have in your house, especially card games.  Children can play card games such as “Go Fish,” and ask each other questions such as, “Do you have the Queen of Hearts.” And if the other play has the card, they must give it to the person asking for it, if not, the player needs to “Go Fish.”

·      Use a set of conversational topic cards or other conversation starter games/activities and ask your child to respond to questions and tell about given topics.

·      Find a story you have read together with your child. Read the story again and talk about what you would do, ask your child what they might say if they were that character in the story.  Make connections to the story and ask your child, “do you remember when you went to the park?” or talk about how the character in the story feels in the story, “she seems sad because she lost her toy, how would you feel?”

·      Play a game of “Who am I?” and take turns giving clues about different family members in the house and see if your child can guess, “Who am I?” or give clues to let you guess which family member is being described.

Articulation

Speech production refers to the use of the tongue, lips, breath support, voice, and jaw to produce sounds. This may also be referred to as articulation of speech.

Certain sounds are easier for children to say as they require less muscle coordination, movement, and/or fine motor control. Therefore, children may typically learn certain sounds before others.  

Articulation activities you can do at home

·      Go on a scavenger hunt around the house and find items around your house that contain your child’s target speech sound(s).  Name each item so your child can hear good speech sounds using the target sound(s).

·      When reading a story with your child, have your child listen for the target speech sound(s) and clap each time they hear the target speech sounds in the story.

·      Make a list to see who can come up with the most words that begin/end with the target speech sound(s).  Use this list to practice each day words that are used every day.

·      Look in story books or magazines for pictures that have the target sound. 

·      Write each word on two index cards so you can play a game of Memory or match.

·      Play a game of checkers together.  Have your child name five words with the target sound each time they take a turn.

Fluency

We all have times when we demonstrate difficulty trying to speak smoothly. We may add "uh" or "like " when we are speaking to others. Sometimes, we may even say a sound or word more than once. These dysfluencies may be considered completely normal if they happen every once in a while. When it happens a lot, it may be stuttering.

People who stutter with speech can experiences changes from day to day. Stress or excitement can lead to more stuttering.

Fluency activities you can do at home

·      Allow your child to have some time to think about what they will talk about.

·      Have your child tell about an activity you just completed together (cooking, playing games, playing outside).  Talk about ways to improve fluency such as slowing down, planning the story before telling, making a list of key details to tell about the story.

The following activities are some suggestions are broken down by your child's grade level:

In Early Grades K–2

·      Talk with your child a lot.

·      Read different types of books. Read every day and talk with your child about the story.

·      Help your child learn sound patterns of words. You can play rhyming games and point out letters as you read.

·      Have your child retell stories and talk about his day.

·      Talk with your child about what you do during the day. Give her directions to follow.

·      Talk about how things are the same and different.

In Later Grades 3-5

·      Keep your child reading. Find books and magazines that interest your child.

·      Ask your child what he thinks about what he hears or reads. Connect what he reads to events in his life and find opportunities to remind your child of family events.

·      Help your child connect what she reads and hears at school, home, and other events.

·      Talk out loud as you help your child read about and solve problems.

·      Help your child recognize spelling patterns. For example, point out the beginnings and endings of words, like "pre-" or "–ed."

·      Get your child to write letters, keep a diary, and write stories.

Incorporate daily routines as a part of your child’s home practice.

·      The best way to practice your child’s language and speech goals is to have them practice during activities they do every day at home. Encourage them to speak to you in the language you are most comfortable speaking but allow them to speak whichever languages they are most comfortable speaking as well.

Some common home routines you child can use to practice speech and language goals include:

Mealtime and Cooking

·      Have your child request foods and drinks during mealtime and discuss smells, flavors, and textures while eating and cooking.

Bath Time and Brushing Teeth

·      Your child can say 10 words or phrases before they brush their teeth, and 10 words or phrases after to practice their speech sounds.

Bed Time

·      Read or tell a story to your child in the language you are most comfortable speaking; have your child talk about the things they enjoyed about their day or things they are excited about the following day; have your child say 10 words before they fall asleep.

Laundry and Cleaning

·      Assign your child to sort laundry items by categories: all of the items of the same color together, all types of clothing together, etc. and have them describe the items in either language.

Driving in the car

·      Practice reading a list of words.

·      Play “I spy” by having your child describe an item they see without telling you what it is.

·      Describe items they see as they drive to/from school using whichever language they prefer and speak back to them in the language you prefer.