Say What? Now You Need Me to get My Kid to Talk?!

Simple activities for helping your child meet their speech and language milestones

As a mother, I wanted my baby to be healthy and meet all of his developmental milestones. As Speech Language Pathologist, I not only wanted him to meet all of his speech and language milestones but meet them early.  During my son’s younger years, each time we went to the pediatrician, I would get asked the questions regarding his milestones.  There were a few times where my child was not exactly on target. Now, I would have my moment of feeling parent inadequacy when these conversations would take place. But after we would leave the appointment and I would get my usual Chick Fil A milkshake (because yes, we all needed a little reward after going to the doctor’s office especially when it called for shots) I would think logically about what I could do to improve his success with meeting milestones. 

The pediatrician was not always aware I was an SLP,  therefore when I reported he had not met that milestone, suggestions were provided for activities to try at home. At best, these were basic suggestions; however, they could be overwhelming for a parent.  Since I was familiar with what my son needed to do, this did not overwhelm me but made me focus on my task at hand. It did make me wonder how other parents felt. Did they feel this was one more thing to be added to their plate?   I have used my professional knowledge, published data, and plain old parenting experience and comprised a list of basic activities.  You can incorporate these activities into your daily routine to track your child’s progress.  The activities provided are very basic (inexpensive) ways to incorporate an ongoing assessment of your child’s speech and language milestones. Before you read my list, I want to preface this by saying, although I am a professional, these are very general milestones and activities. Please always contact your pediatrician for further assessment options.

Around 12 Months
What the books say: Says 1-3 words, responds to name, understands no, follows simple commands
 
Activities you can incorporate into a daily routine:  Say “mama” or “dada” often with excitement. As soon as they say it once, praise them like crazy so they receive that positive reinforcement to say it again. Reading to your baby is another great activity that promotes the early language development (at this age, you do not have to read every word). Call your baby’s name when they cant see you. 
 
Around 24 months
What the books say: Vocabulary of 50-250 words,  uses 2-word phrases, follow simple directions 
Activities:   Give them short directions that involve their favorite toy( “Go get Mr. Bear”) or common objects (“Bring me your diaper”), speak clearly to your child (as cute as it is, eliminate the baby talk ), Read to your child, you can have them point to various pictures and imitate the names,  
 
When providing your child with a drink or snack,  point to refrigerator or pantry and say “Milk?” or “Cookie?” then take their hand to point to the item. This will simulate them pointing. Looking at books and watching tv shows with animals assist with promotion of echolalia when imitating animal sounds.
 
2-3 years
What the books say: 50-75% of the words they say are clear, uses 2-4 word phrases, uses “I, me, and you.”
Activities:  Place some items out of reach to elicit  “I want…” then have them repeat after you. Turn-taking games with common toys are a great way to incorporate phrases. 
 
3-4 years
What the books say: 70-80% of the words they say are clear, has 800-1500 words, 4-5  word sentences asks and answers “who, what, and where.” Follows 2-3 word directions.
Activities: Use real-life situations “Who came to your party?” “What did you do at school today?” Name objects as you use them. Expand upon the object name to grow vocabulary. (Instead of “block” say “red block” or for “bathroom” say “restroom.” Ask questions that require a choice which will expand their response length
 
4-5 years
What the books say: 900-2000 words, 4-8 word sentences length, understands prepositions, names 1-3 colors, counts to 10 
Activities: Use puzzles for colors and numbers. Play movement games such as “Simon Says” to assist with use of prepositions. Have conversations without distractions.
 
5-6 years
What the books say: Asks how questions, accurately relay a story, follow 3 step commands, names primary colors, counts to 30
Activities: Listen to your child tell stories. Use car rides for a great way to have a conversation about where you are going/what they have done. Watch tv together then have your child retell you what they watched.  Allow them to read words they recognize in books.
 
This is a very general list with very simple activities. Please check out https://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/   for further developmental language milestones, always check with your pediatrician, and trust your mama’s intuition. Early intervention is the best kind of therapy for your child if they are in need!

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