If I get one question a lot on parents' first visits with their young child, it's this:
"Yes, but what can I do? Like right now?"
Okay, that was two questions.
My first answer is simple: don't overthink it.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of therapy, I direct parents to their 'homework' for the week, which really isn't complicated if you can find the time to do it. These can be done anywhere, any time.
Reading routine: books at bedtime are a surefire way to get kids listening to:
- new vocabulary
- sentence structures
- early narrative elements
- caregiver's voice expressing emotions
- much more
Consider swapping the tablet for a book in the back of the car (obviously, you drive, they "read"... Please don't read and drive.)
Alternatively, we're talking 10 mins at bedtime. Consider asking your older child questions to predict what will happen next or speculate why an event in the book happened.
For preschoolers, allow them to listen to their favourite story 1,000 times. They usually love the predictability and will likely be picking up the narrative elements (start-middle-end / details).
You might even change some well-known events as a surprise (e.g. then Goldilocks ate a McDonald's burger and it was just right!)
Babies love to turn pages themselves, enjoy sound effects (e.g. "mooooo"), and usually simplified 'stories' with only a few words. You can simply point and label some pictures in the book, you don't have to 'read' the whole thing.
2. Rhyme: listening to well known nursery rhymes and songs is a fantastic way for your child to get access to rhyme, which is a crucial pre-literacy skill later drawn on in reading abilities. YouTube have some fantastic rhymes at the click of a button!
3. Play: repeating and expanding well known play scripts and sequences is the most effective way children learn, including early speech & language skills. Forget about rehearsing those ABCs, there's more to life than academics!
Play play play to develop problem-solving ability, social intelligence, and speech and language!
You'll often find your speech and language therapist using these activities in the speech and language therapy sessions because they're tried and tested.
Of course, these alone won't "fix" speech and language problems so if you're concerned about your child, contact a speech pathologist today to talk through next steps.