Parents are typically the first people to notice a speech delay in their children. When a parent starts to notice his or her child is missing major speech development milestones, he or she may feel concerned or worried. These speech delays may seem even more serious to parents if they see other children at daycare displaying more advanced speech skills.
Fortunately, early intervention can help significantly reduce the severity of a speech delay.
If you’re worried that your child’s speech isn’t developing normally, here are some things you can do to help.
Identify a Speech Delay
The first step when helping your child overcome a speech delay is to get professional help. Keep in mind that your child may not have a speech problem simply because he or she started talking later than most children.
Children who are late talkers are those who can only speak 50 words or less by age two and use limited, two-word combinations. For example, if your child can only say two-word combinations like “more juice” or “get down,” he or she may have a minor speech delay. The good news is that most children who display minor signs of speech delay will often meet normal speech standards by their first year of school.
Your child may have a severe speech delay if he or she displays the following signs:
- Has a vocabulary of 20 words or less
- Rarely uses verbs
- Struggles to understand simple language
- Doesn’t display communicative gestures, like nodding or shaking his or her head
Seek the help of a speech therapist if you notice these signs. The speech therapist will perform an assessment to determine if your child needs speech intervention techniques.
Help at Daycare
If your child has been diagnosed with a speech impediment, talk with his or her daycare providers. Work with daycare providers to implement recommended treatments from your child’s speech therapist.
As you establish a speech program, you may need to communicate with your child’s daycare providers on a regular basis. Determine how your daycare providers prefer to communicate with parents (e.g. in person, phone calls, emails, etc.).
In addition, be responsive to concerns from your child’s teacher. Do your best to avoid becoming defensive. Instead, work together with your child’s teacher and offer suggestions for ways to help your child improve.
Help at Home
Along with the recommendations from your child’s speech therapist, you can also support your child’s speech development by doing activities at home. Parents often play a major role in helping encourage proper language development in their children. In fact, some studies have found that when children are spoken with and read to regularly, they often have larger vocabularies than children who aren’t.
Try the following with your child at home to help encourage proper speech development:
- Read picture books with your child. As you read, allow your child to point out familiar objects to help him or her use and listen to new vocabulary. You may also want to participate in story time at your local bookstore or library if available.
- Ask questions to give your child a chance to use new vocabulary.
- Narrate situations to help expose your child to new vocabulary. In time, your child may start to make connections with objects and situations to help develop his or her speech.
- Give your child praise after he or she tries to talk or use new vocabulary.
- Listen to music together. Many children love lively songs, like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” Songs can help children learn new vocabulary in a fun environment.
Fortunately, many child care centers provide many of these activities as well. If both you and your child care center focus on speech building activities, you can bring about environments that foster proper language development for your child.
As you try these activities, follow your child’s lead. If he or she shows interest in a song or picture book, talk about it. When you discuss your child’s interests with him or her, you encourage healthy speech and language development.
For more help, trust the child care providers at Kid’s Country Child Care & Learning Center to help your child reach his or her speech and language goals.