By: Blair Gorenberg MA, CCC-SLP
Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) work in various settings worldwide to help individuals of all ages with speech, language, cognitive, communication, and swallowing delays and disorders. Enrolling your child in speech therapy is one of the most beneficial things you can do for their speech and language development. However, your child’s work in the therapy room will not result in long-term progress without carrying it over into your child’s natural environment. In addition, the more time your child spends practicing speech and language targets, the easier it is to incorporate skills learned in formal instruction into everyday life. Here is some helpful information on providing home practice opportunities for your child.
What are speech therapy exercises?
Speech therapy exercises are activities that can be practiced to assist with the development of speech and language skills. These activities can target a variety of skills and can be completed with materials from your child’s therapist, things found around your home or no materials at all! For example, if your child is working on the production of specific sounds in speech therapy, these sounds can be practiced at home as well! Encourage your child to produce the target sound in isolation (say “b”) while giving your child a model of how to say the sound (pointing to your own lips while saying “b”).
Why are speech therapy exercises important?
Seeing a licensed speech-language pathologist is important to your child’s speech and language development because SLPs are trained in identifying and treating a variety of speech and language disorders. Dedicating time, whether it’s 30 minutes or an hour, for your child to work with an SLP in the therapy room allows for your child to have focused time every week to address any speech or language disorder. However, that 30 minutes to an hour of dedicated time with an SLP will only go so far without practicing speech and language targets during the rest of the week. It’s important to communicate and collaborate with your child’s SLP to determine what your child is working on in the therapy room and how you can assist your child and the SLP outside of the therapy room. Studies show that working on speech and language targets in short sessions (as short as 5 minutes) multiple times a week is vital to your child’s speech and language development.
Can I do speech therapy at home?
Speech therapy can and should definitely be done at home! However, it is very important that your child is enrolled in speech therapy, with a licensed SLP, who will identify appropriate goals for your child and exercises that you can carry over into the home environment. Working as a team with your child’s SLP will ultimately maximize your child’s success and overall development. The SLP will provide education regarding any speech or language deficits your child may have, discuss how these deficits are being addressed in the therapy setting, and how you can address these deficits in the home environment. Make sure to check in with your child’s therapist after each session to discuss how home exercises are going and if any modifications or additions to your practice routine are needed.
What speech therapy exercises can I do at home with my child?
There are a variety of activities that can be incorporated into the home environment for any given speech or language disorder. Here are some ideas of how to help your child.
Help your child practice producing sounds that are difficult for them. Remember to start with the sound in isolation, followed by working on the sound in single words, and then addressing it in sentences or regular conversation. For example, instruct your child to say “mm” while providing them with the visual model of pointing to your closed lips while producing the sound. Once “mm” is mastered in isolation, move on to simple words such as mom, more, and mop. Showing your child pictures associated with these words can make the activity more engaging.
Expressive and receptive language
Reading a book with your child is a great way to address both expressive and receptive language skills. To help increase your child’s vocabulary, point to and label a variety of objects in the book. Depending on what skills your child is working on, describing the item can help your child gain an understanding of the meaning of the word. For example, while pointing to a dog, say “dog” or “this is a dog. It says woof.” Engaging your child in a book is also a great way to target answering questions. These questions can be anything from “what is this” while pointing to an object in the book, to “how does the girl feel?”
Participating in your child’s play routine or encouraging your child to play with you in an adult-directed activity can address developing play skills your child is addressing in the therapy room. This can be done by imitating your child’s play, playing alongside your child, allowing your child to watch what you do, taking on a role within your child’s play routine, or assigning a role to your child in a play routine that you lead. For example, you can start a play routine by pretending to cook food. Invite your child to “cook” with you and show the “food” and “cooking supplies” that your child can use. It’s helpful for you to narrate your own actions in play but remember to allow silent wait time for your child to speak, ask questions, or change the play routine.
Working on your child’s speech and language in the home environment, in tandem with participation in speech therapy with a speech-language pathologist, will help your child progress and make long-term gains toward speech and language development. Having an open and frequent conversation with your child’s speech therapist will allow you to understand your child’s goals and how you can best support your child in the natural home environment. Short practice sessions multiple times a week, such as practicing a sound for 5 minutes every day, are proven to be better for your child’s overall development than a few long practice sessions. Speech therapy exercises can be easily incorporated into the home environment using materials provided by the speech therapist, items you have in your home, or without any materials at all!
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“How to Make Speech Therapy More Fun (at Home or in Therapy).” Speech And Language Kids, 5 Nov. 2021, https://www.speechandlanguagekids.com/make-speech-therapy-fun-home-therapy/.
“Speech Therapy Activities & Printable Speech Games for All Ages.” University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, 20 Jan. 2022, https://www.usa.edu/blog/speech-therapy-activities/.
“Speech Therapy Activities at Home during Quarantine.” Children’s Speech Care, 2 Apr. 2020, https://childspeech.net/speech-therapy-activities-at-home-during-quarantine/.
“Twenty 5-Minute Speech Therapy Activities You Can Do at Home.” HomeSpeechHome, https://www.home-speech-home.com/twenty-5-minute-speech-therapy-activities-you-can-do-at-home.html.