Your Parental Role
An online speech therapy clinician helps your child to overcome her speech or language deficit. As a parent, you want to do everything you can for your child. So, the question is, what can you do to help to maximize those clinical sessions?
The first thing is, once you have discovered that your child needs online speech therapy, to get educated. Read all you can and find out what resources are available to you.
Then ask lots and lots of questions. Do NOT be afraid to ask questions! There are no stupid ones. SLPs are asked all kinds of questions, and certainly don’t expect you to know the things they know. Ask whatever you need to, in order to understand what is happening. The more you understand, the better you can help your kid.
Beyond that, it is important to know that, as a parent, you can play a direct and crucial role in your child’s success between speech therapy sessions. But presuming that you haven’t been trained as an SLP, what can you do?
Here are some tried and true tips to help you help your child:
5 Highly Tips
Never underestimate the power of play in a child’s speech development. While your child is playing with her toys or games, sit down and play along, grabbing the opportunity to model how the toy or game is typically used, meanwhile animating your voice to highlight different aspects of the lesson. This will stimulate conversation.
Or play memory games together and ensure that both of you say the names of the objects on the cards as you turn them over. Again, this will get your children talking without them even realizing it.
Want to put your Smartphone to even better use? Call and talk to grandparents, dad at work, or other relatives and friends who have both the interest and patience to be part of your kid’s success.
Regular verbal interactions with your child are very important to his development. Be sure to speak slowly, while appropriately modeling any words he may find difficult, using visual cues to augment his understanding. Keep it clear, simple, and consistent, and make sure to give him some time to respond.
Whenever possible, give your child the opportunity to express his needs himself, instead of doing that for him. Don’t ask, “Do you want this or that?”; let him use his own words to let you know what he wants.
Reading is central to speech and language development. It’s never too early to begin reading to your child. Start off with simple books that repeat words and phrases, and those that rhyme.
When your child is young, it is best to read very short, colorful books. Be sure to read carefully and quietly, and point to each word as you read it. If the word relates to an image on the page, point to the image associated with that word. Don’t hesitate to read the same book over and over, as this can help your child exercise her language skills.
As your child grows, migrate to more “challenging” books that require her to answer simple questions which require more thought than just yes/no answers. Feel free to make the readings as dramatic or whimsical as possible, and if necessary make loud dramatic sounds to grab her attention.
Singing is also helpful in speech development. Encouraging kids to belt out their favorite melodies is instrumental in learning new words. While your child is singing his favorite song, ask him to pause to provide clarification on a lyric. “What word comes after love? Can you tell me?” Or ask your child to speak the words to the lyrics to help him learn.
Singing has another benefit as well. It helps your child learn to modulate the speed and volume of his voice. Have your child sing quietly during the soft parts of the song, and then open wide to belt out the sound at the climax.
After you do that a few times, you will have a useful tool to use later on. If your child speaks loudly where he should be quiet, you can remind him, “Remember when we sang softly to the song yesterday? Let’s do the same thing with our voices now.”
The Internet offers a wealth of online speech therapy resources that provide children opportunities to reinforce their clinical experience in the comfort of their own homes. Below are just a few of the free resources.
Remember: an optimal online speech therapy source is designed to assist your child’s growth and development, not merely to entertain and pass the time.
StoryPlace.org contains several stories and interactive activities for young children (preschool and older). The online offering is multidimensional, providing a story and activity, together with activities for parents that can be downloaded and printed.
FunBrain.com includes several games for children. They cover a broad smattering of topics and are quite educational. They include vocabulary, grammar, reading, math, and some that are thrown in just for the fun of it!
Scholastic.com, The Family Playground website, is a marvelous resource for young children (preschool and older), and mom and dad as well. Included are activities and games that are related to such beloved characters such as Clifford, the Magic School Bus, and I Spy by Walter Wick.
The Tongue Twister Database provides fun as your child masters tongue twisters. Practicing speech never brought with it so many giggles!
The Power of a Parent
Use your imagination to add your own ideas to those above. One of the sweetest ideas came from a mother who proudly acknowledged, “My son gets to lick a lollipop in between repetitions of his words. Five words then a lick. He knows he has to put it down when it is time to work. Sticky but it works.”
The powerful combination of online speech therapy and parental support together will make your child’s potential limitless!