Opportunities and need to communicate are all around us.
Our daily routines at home allow for many communication opportunities we may not notice at first glance. Free time, even if limited, can also be language rich. Children with language delays/deficits and related disabilities need as many of these opportunities as we can help provide. A useful strategy is to name and label items around the home. Modeling the names of items when eating dinner, doing the household chores, reading books and even driving in the car can significantly increase vocabulary skills. Many families label household items with words and pictures (google images is your best friend!) to increase identification and naming. Repeating and rephrasing also help to model language skills. When your little one comes to you with the remote, you can respond with “Oh, do you want me to turn on the tv?” followed by modeling a functional way to ask “Say, On Please”. It can be difficult to take the extra moment to model and require requesting and labeling-but so effective! Your child will learn that they can get their needs and wants to be met very effectively with the words you model. During household chores, children can work on receptive language/understanding skills. Give them simple directions to follow (Get the shirt and bring it here) as you fold laundry or clean the kitchen. And how about during the small amounts of free time we are able to carve out? These are the most engaging times to work on communication skills. Pretend play with a farm, blocks or a dollhouse is the perfect time to continue modeling the names of items, giving directions to follow (get the duck and put it in the barn) and practice turn-taking. Many simple words can be taught during play with bubbles (pop, blow, up, down, more, your turn, my turn), car play (go, stop, up, down, fast, slow) and even on the playground (go, run, jump, swing, help, more, want). Our kids may need models or extra time to respond with appropriate language during these play activities, but often catch on quickly when the activity is motivating! So begin looking around when you are home with your child that has language needs. What can you name them? What can you ask them to do? How can you model and require increased language? What language can you encourage during play? Even 10 minutes a day of a language-rich environment at home will help to carry over the important communication skills we long for our kids to achieve!
Check out the AssistiveWare Core Word Classroom for many resources to encourage language with verbal and nonverbal children!
By: Punam Desormes, M.A., CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist
Princeton House Charter School