Fun (& Easy) Ideas for Improving Language Skills in Your Child
You may be surprised at how effective a few simple activities can be to improve your child's ability to communicate. Here are a few things you can try at home to improve your child’s language skills.
You can use the Twister game to practice speech sounds, words or vocabulary. Put your practice cards on each dot and then spin away! Don't worry about the game rules so much, especially with little people. The movement can help some kids with focus and remembering the words. Oh, and its more fun than a worksheet!
Wikki Stix Writing
Wikki Writing is a multi sensory approach to forming letters and words. Use "wikistiks" to form letters and words. The senses of touch and sight and sound work together as children see, feel and hear the sounds of the letters and words. Using hand and body movement to shape the letters helps make an impression of the letter on the brain. Children who have trouble writing and remembering letters, numbers and words can learn from wiki writing. It's fun too!
Muffin Pan Mixup
Kids need to repeat sounds many times to learn them. It can be hard to help little kids do this. Use a muffin pan. Find things that start with your child's new sound. Let them fill up the pan, saying the word each time they put something in the cup. The dollar store is a great place to find lots of fun but inexpensive things to fill up the pan. This one has "balloons" for working on the "b" sound. You can use pom poms (craft balls), cars, pennies. Use your imagination! Filling and dumping the pan keeps kids motivated to practice.
Physical play often helps kids pay attention longer, especially when they have to use a lot of energy to concentrate. Any play involving pushing, pulling, jumping, lifting, or climbing helps just before or during speech practice. Examples: Fill a small backpack to carry around, help pull siblings in a wagon, or build a fort out of pillows and blankets.
To improve muscle strength or accurate mouth movement, you can use many common toys or tools. Bubbles, straws, horns, pinwheels and whistles are all examples of toys that can help with mouth muscle strength and coordination. Sometimes an electric toothbrush can be a good way to "wake up" the muscles in the mouth for speech practice.
Add Some Pictures
Put pictures on the outside of toy bins to show which toy is inside (ex: blocks, cars, dolls). The picture will help your child start to learn the word or remind them to say it. Using actual pictures of the real toy is best. Or take pictures of your child's favorite things and put them in a little photo album. This is a "me" book for your child to show others! You can also use the outside of snack boxes or pictures of favorite snacks to help your child make choices about what they want.
Help your child learn to imitate gestures by playing games like an easy version of Simon Says - just remember that you're not really trying to be tricky! Try to slightly exaggerate your gestures if your child is not yet doing things like pointing or shaking his head - especially if you see other kids his age already doing this. You can also use gestures in songs, like "Itsy Bitsy Spider" or "Wheels on the Bus". Repeat these often to get practice with gestures.
Words and sounds
Songs, rhymes, repetitive books are great for early speakers. Eric Carle, Sandra Boynton and Dr Suess books are some of my favorites. Even for children speaking in sentences, books and songs help with speech rate, rhythm and volume. Repetitive practice is important for getting speech sounds to be clear. You can also use favorite board games, like Candy Land, movement games like Hulabaloo or Twister, and picture cards to get practice with sounds.