I’ve been doing a for a few weeks now. Let me say (again) that these posts are based on my experience with my daughter Sophie; I am NOT a professional! However, all of these ideas and activities have worked for Sophie and I and I want to pass them along in case they may be of help to someone else. Here are some activities to do with your speech-delayed child.
1) Read, Read, READ books! Sophie’s speech delay was primarily receptive, so I used books to help her understand new experiences and concepts. I highly recommend the First Experiences series from Usborne Books. These helped me teach Sophie what it meant to go to the dentist, the doctor, school, etc. They are awesome! Also, any books with repetition are great – such as Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? and the companion books of that line by Eric Carle. But really – just READ. Read a lot of books, all kinds. Read, read, read.
2) BrainQuest cards – these are flipbooks of cards that ask a variety of different questions based on age-level. I started with an age level below what Sophie’s age and we worked our way up. The objective for me was not that she get all the answers right – first, the cards helped me learn what concepts she did and did not understand. As we went through the decks, we shared the answers together and after awhile (we would do a few cards every time we worked together) she got the concepts and could answer questions correctly. Then, we’d move up to the next level. These cards are great for any child, but they gave me some great material for helping Sophie, and I didn’t have to make up stuff on my own.
3) Puzzles - A Melissa & Doug puzzle that makes noise, like this one , is a great tool. I’d take all the pieces out of the puzzle, then ask, “Sophie, which vehicle has a whistle and goes on tracks?” Then, I’d let her answer and put the puzzle piece in. She was rewarded with the fun choo-choo sound of the train. This helped her with vocabulary, distinguishing differences between the different vehicles, answering questions, and categorizing. (I didn’t make this up, I learned this activity by watching Sophie’s speech language pathologist do it with her.)
4) Have a little doll talk. One of Sophie’s challenges was conversation. She always had a great vocabulary and good articulation but she didn’t converse well. So, to teach her how, we got out two of her favorite dolls and made them talk to each other. At first, I did all the talking for both dolls and she giggled and watched. Then, I gave her a doll and told her what to make it say, and she repeated it. After awhile, she got the idea and she’d initiate turns in the conversation herself. Then she was able to take what she learned from our “doll talk” and take it with her into social situations. Now, you’d never know the girl was once at a loss for words! Just this weekend she made a new friend at Chick-fil-a in the play place. Yesterday when we drove by Chick-fil-a again, she said, “Mommy, I made a new friend at Chick-fil-a. I said ‘What’s your name? My name is Sophie.’ and her name was Emily and she played with me!” That got a big smile from me!
Those are just a few things that worked for us in general. Once you are able to find out what your child’s needs are, work on making your play time with them really intentional as well as your work time!
Stay tuned for some more specifically targeted language-developing activities coming up in the series.
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Have fun being intentional while you play with your little ones today!