Reid Health System recently shared some helpful advice for parents who wish to practice speech therapy at home. The full article can be read here. Some of their suggestions are:
Practice. If your child has trouble saying a certain sound “f” for example encourage him or her to just make that sound all by itself. Once that comes more easily you can incorporate it into syllables like “fi-fi-fi” or “fa-fa-fa” before moving onto actual words that use it. Repetition is your friend—and it’s an opportunity for “gamification.” Give tokens for completing a set number of exercises.
Focus on what the child can do instead of overemphasizing what he or she can’t do. While it’s important to pay attention to improvements in speech remember to praise other small victories like picking up toys being polite or using the bathroom. And don’t be tempted to allow bad behavior simply because the child has a speech problem.
Keep background noise and distractions to a minimum during learning sessions and at other times too. Studies show that too much TV can actually delay language development because parents tend not to talk as much to their children as they otherwise would. Children learn to speak best when they are actually spoken to.
Listen! Ask questions and be attentive and patient with the replies. Interrupting and expecting the child to “just spit it out” will create anxiety which can make the problem worse. Let him or her work it out without pressure. On the other hand don’t be too focused or the child may become uncomfortable. Try to keep the conversation natural and don’t add pressure by demanding perfection.
Use straws. Drinking liquids through them or blowing air out of them will help your child develop the muscular strength in the mouth that’s important for clear speech. Make it into a game—get a ping-pong ball and see if he or she can blow it through a goal you set up or keep the ball at the end of the straw by sucking up air through it.
Read. Reading a favorite book to your child and then having them read it back to you can provide excellent reinforcement. Even if the child is too young to be able to read words having them explain what they see in the book and remembering the context from hearing it can strengthen speech and confidence.