Speech Therapy at Home
You don't need any special credentials to help your child work through difficulties with speech. A speech pathologist can diagnose the cause of a speech difficulty and create an action plan to support all of a child's needs in the development of speech and language, but anyone can help a child to build their language skills. Whether working with a speech pathologist or on your own, a little knowledge goes a long way. This information can help shape your at-home speech therapy into a positive and fruitful experience.
Repetition through Play
Repetition is a key part of learning. Practicing sounds develops muscle memory, making it easier to make the sound each time until it’s second nature. Continuously revisiting different concepts until you get things right builds confidence and makes it easier to take on new concepts. Completing tasks from memory strengthens neural pathways, developing long-term skills. The goal of at-home speech therapy isn’t to remove repetition, but to make the learning process a fun, dynamic and inviting experience.
The first step is to put the flash cards away and replace them with toys or other things that facilitate learning in a fun and engaging way. Any toy can be a learning toy, but certain varieties are designed with a purpose in mind and the path to learning is already paved. For example, instead of showing your child pictures on flash cards, you can ask them about the toys in a playset. “Where did the lamp go?” “What hiding under the table?” “Let’s call for the cow and maybe he’ll come out.” You can practice the same vocabulary, skills, sounds and concepts with a playset, particularly a playset geared toward speech learning, without resorting to flash cards.
Practicing Animal Sounds & Silly Noises as You Play
Sometimes a child loves to show off their skills, and will respond enthusiastically to requests like “Can you say banana?” with their best attempt at pronouncing the word. Eventually the excitement fades and it’s harder to practice in the same way. Still, some words are just fun to say! If your child loves vehicles, play with cars and trains while exclaiming “vroom” and “choo choo.” If your child loves animals, play with some of their favorites while exclaiming “meow” and “quack.” If your child loves music or dancing, make a game with musical onomatopoeia like “crash” and “toot toot.” When playing these games, your child isn’t just practicing these few terms, they’re practicing the building blocks of the English language and building the confidence to try new words.
Speech Therapy at Home with a Professional
You can also invite your speech therapist, or speech pathologist, to work with your child in the home setting. The advantage of having speech therapy sessions at home is the familiar setting; kids are more relaxed especially at first, their favorite toys are at home which can be great fuel for conversation and it doesn’t require going anywhere out of the way. Speech therapy from home does miss out on some opportunities, though: Working with other kids can help children to learn by example, or by teaching each other, and practice natural conversation as a group of peers. When possible, a balance of the two can be wonderful.
Speech Therapy in Day-to-Day Tasks
You can work on speech and language development with your child every day in your normal routine, just by talking about what you’re doing. “Would you like to wear the red shirt or the blue shirt?” “Could you bring me your hairbrush?” “Let’s all have a bite of broccoli.” The conversation expands as your child develops vocabulary and understanding, making way for new discoveries.
There are many perks to doing speech therapy from home, whether on its own or in addition to professional speech therapy. The setting is calm and familiar, all of your child’s favorite toys are in easy reach and it’s easy to keep the conversation going throughout the day.