Child & Family Development Child & Family Development

August 1, 2017

5 tips to encourage preschooler’s communication skills 


Emily Gammon MS CCC-SLP is a pediatric speech therapist at Child and Family Development.  She shares 5 pro tips for parents to encourage expressive language and receptive language in the little ones:

  1. PROVIDE CHOICES: To increase expressive language output, give your child two choices to decide between. Presenting these choices verbally and visually is helpful for your child‚Äôs cognitive organization as well as highly motivating.  It gives them a chance to choose what they want to do! Try this games, activities or even daily routines like getting dressed or choosing a breakfast item. For kids that tend to always revert to the choice on the same side, you can try presenting the options vertically, one on top of the other!
  2. TAKE YOUR TIME: Give your child a chance to respond or make a communicative attempt even if it feels a little awkward. Whether your child is a verbal or a nonverbal communicator, some kids require extra time to process the information that has been given to them and to formulate a response. Sometimes, silence is key!
  3. NARRATE: Talk about what you all are doing while it is happening. The technical word for this is parallel talk. Parallel talk gives your child the ability to hear language being used as it directly corresponds to what is happening before their eyes. You can think of it as narrating a daily routine or describing play time! Plus, it exposes your child to new vocabulary and related concepts.
  4. GAMETIME: Make a game out of building vocabulary! While preparing a meal, label stuff that is red/items in a recipe/tools being used.  While at the park or taking a walk, label items that are circles/things that moves/colors you see. This will build your child‚Äôs understanding of different words by attaching a physical object to it.  Don’t be surprised to hear those words pop up in future conversations! 
  5. SHORT AND SWEET: Speak in shorter, more functional phrases. Instead of saying to a young child, “Go over there and get the green ball and bring it here, please” you could say, “green ball please” to help the child understand clearly what is being asked of them. For kids who are just starting to become verbal communicators, this type of functional language is simpler and easier to follow. The idea, too, is that the phrase is comprised in a way that the child could imitate it. Speaking in shorter phrases gives both the child an opportunity to understand what is being requested and also the ability to repeat or recreate the phrase!

Our team of speech therapists can help get communication going for your child!