A child’s expressive vocabulary grows rapidly from the time of his first word at approximately 12 months, through first grade. Did you know that the average 2 year old uses over 200 words growing to 1000 words by age 3 years to over 1600 words by age 4? Your child’s words may only be understood 50% of the time by age 2 but should be 90% understandable between 4-5 years.
There are many strategies that parents and caregivers can use to improve a child’s communication:
Follow the child’s lead
• Let the child choose the activity
• Join in the child’s activity
• Comment on the child’s play/talk about what he/she is doing
• Be face to face
Make it interactive – Create an opportunity for your child to communicate
• Keep toys/needed items in sight and out of reach to elicit requesting
• Provide inadequate portions so child requests more
• Create silly situations/be animated
• Playfully obstruct activity so child must request you “move”, “go”, etc.
Model and Expand the child’s language
• Model gestures and words
• Simplify your language
• Speak slowly
• Be repetitive
• Provide choices (even when you already know what the child wants)
• Add one more element to your child’s language (i.e.: if child uses one word utterances, model two word phrases, “go” becomes “car go”)
Try some of these fun outdoor activities to help develop language skills.
Nature Walk: Whether at your local park or in your own backyard, now’s the perfect time to get outside. While you are there, take the time to talk about what you are seeing:
• Label items (grass, leaf, flower, tree, dirt, stick). Collect items in a bag and encourage your child to show others what they found. Model language (“Look, I see, I found”)
• Talk about the colors and sizes (big/little, short/tall) of the flowers, bugs, rocks and plants
• Discuss what you hear (model silly sounds and animal sounds)
• Talk about what people/animals are doing (who is running, sliding, throwing, swinging or what is crawling, flying, hiding). This is a great activity to
Water/sand play: Enjoy a hot day with water and/or sand play! Fill up a small pool or even a bucket with water/sand. You can use cups, big spoons and strainers while discussing the different steps throughout the activity:
• Talk about actions (splash, pour, fill, dump, scoop, dig)
• Label items (boats, spoons, cups). Children love to find items buried in the sand (hide, find and
• Talk about body parts (splash/scoop with your hands, splash with/bury your feet, do little splashes/dig with your fingers) Follow the Leader/Simon Says: Both activities are great for toddlers and school-age children. Use Follow the Leader to work on identifying body parts and actions, as well as following directions. Younger children can participate by following visual instructions.
• Make sure you talk about what you’re doing (model words), model actions and assist them with hand over hand assistance if necessary! (“Clap hands, stomp feet, arms up”, “touch your eyes/nose/toes” and “Walk, run, jump, hop”)
• Work on opposites (up/down, stop/go, loud/soft, high/low)
• Make instructions harder if the children are older (have them follow two “clap your hands then stomp your feet” or “touch your nose then touch
• Take turns being the leader and being “Simon”.
Encourage your child to tell you what to do!
Caregiver involvement can have a positive impact on improving a child’s language skills. However; there are red flags which may indicate that a child may need professional intervention.
Red Flags 18 months:
• Does not point to objects
• Does not use gestures such as waving or shaking head
• Does not respond to “no” and “bye-bye”
• Does not use at least six to ten words consistently • Does not hear well or discriminate between sounds
• Does not use at least six consonant sounds
• Does not follow simple directions
• Has a vocabulary of less than 50 words
• Has decreased interest in social interactions
• Strangers have difficulty understanding what the child is saying
• Does not use simple sentences
Innovative Therapies Group understands that family education is critical to improve a child’s development of language skills. Coupled with family participation, direct therapy for a variety of communication disorders and delays can promote independent function and improved communication.
Speech therapy can help with improving a child’s ability to understand and use language; and their ability to produce intelligible speech. We have experience treating children with a variety of disorders including Autism Spectrum Disorder.
To find out more or to schedule your appointment, please contact Innovative Therapies Group today.
Innovative Therapies Group, Inc.
352-433-0091 | innovativetherapiesgroup.com