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Simple Ways to Help Your Child Develop Speech
By Michelle Parfitt, MA, CCC-SLP, LSLS™ Cert. AVEd

First words are one of the most anticipated milestones and mark the early stages of child development. After uttering their first few words, children typically develop speech at a rapid rate over the next five years of their life.

Except, sometimes they don’t. Some children develop speaking skills much slower than others. Some will need a little bit of help and others will need more formal intervention. One quick way to determine if further action is needed is to check the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) website’s comprehensive developmental charts for tracking speech and language development in children from birth to age five.

Shivani Duggal, D.O.

Whether a child is developing speech as expected or not, there are many simple things parents and caregivers can do at home to encourage their child’s speech development.

  • Talk: Talking to children about what they are experiencing in their everyday environment is one of the best ways to encourage speech and language development. Parents should go beyond simply labeling objects and, instead, talk about what their child is seeing and doing, describe how things feel, ask questions and tell stories. Speaking while using an expressive voice will catch and hold the attention of young children for a longer amount of time.
  • Modeling: Parents should model correct speech and sentence use when they are speaking with their children. Children will often naturally imitate the models of speech that are heard in their daily lives.
  • Songs and Nursery Rhymes: The repetition and rhythm of songs and nursery rhymes naturally creates a fun and useful way to practice speech sounds and sentence production.
  • Read Aloud: Reading aloud daily has been proven to be one of the best things that parents and caregivers can do for children. Reading helps to improve speech skills, develop vocabulary and improve formulation of sentences and enhance sentence comprehension.

If parents are concerned about their child’s speech and/or language development, they should seek the advice of an ASHA-Certified Speech-Language Pathologist. It is also important to know that some speech delays are due to hearing loss. It is possible for a child to pass a newborn hearing screening at the hospital and develop hearing loss later in life. Any child who is demonstrating speech and/or language delays should have his or her hearing evaluated by an ASHA-Certified Audiologist.

Michelle Parfitt is a Speech Language Pathologist at DePaul School for Hearing and Speech. To learn more, visit www.speakmiracles.org.

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