Many of us overlook that speech is a motor movement. Just like with gross and fine motor skills, sometimes kids need a little “hand over hand” and visual cues to learn how to move their mouths to form words and sentences.
Here are a few tips on how you can help your toddler learn how to move their tiny mouths to form sounds, words, and short sentences:
1. Provide visual models for speech. For example, put an object next to mouth while modeling speech production so your child focuses on how your mouth is moving 2. Limit language to simple words and phrases when trying to get your child to imitate speech production
2. Take into consideration which sounds are developmentally appropriate (ex. b, p, m, w, t, d, n are the first sounds)
3. Expand your child’s vowel repertoire by forming different shapes with your mouth for ee, oo, ay, I, oh, as the vowels are important to form different words.
4. Breakdown words so that child can easily imitate (ex. Water= “wa-ter”)
5. Break up multisyllabic words by tapping on your knee or clapping for each syllable (ba-na-na)
6. As your child starts to combine 3-4 words, encourage use of full sentences and correct grammar (i.e. “I am 2 years old”, I do not want…”, He is running”)
7. When reading books, have your child face you so they can see how you are moving your mouth to label pictures. Also, you can narrate pictures versus reading all the words in the story. This provides a model for your child to learn from and they can start to narrate stories and form phrases and sentences to talk about the picture.
Toys and books are great opportunities to expand vocabulary, joint play, and social language so make sure you have the appropriate toys and books so that they are stimulating and build upon child’s speech and language skills!
Samara Heiman has a Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology. She has been in private practice in Manhattan for over 10 years and provides support to children ages 18 months through their teens. Areas of specialty include treatment and evaluation of children with auditory processing disorders, articulation delays, apraxia, language-based learning disabilities, oral motor delays, expressive and receptive language deficits, and teaching organization and study skills. Samara is also trained in PROMPT therapy, which is extremely helpful in treating articulation and expressive language delays. Evaluations and treatment are provided in the comfort of your home setting. To contact Samara, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Samara, go to www.littlespeakers.com.