Child & Family Development Child & Family Development

February 9, 2017

Speech therapists share tips to encourage speech and language development



The Child and Family Development speech therapy team loves to work with little ones with emerging expressive and receptive language skills.  

Often, parents ask what they can do at home to help kids stay on track with development.    

Here are some ideas.  Choose and adapt the ones that are most appropriate for your child.


  • When your child initiates conversation, give him your full attention.
  • Use good speech that is clear and simple for your child to imitate.
  • Pause after speaking, giving the child time to respond and continue the conversation.
  • Repeat what your child says to indicate that you understand.  Build and expand on what he says. For example, your child says “Want juice” and you respond by saying “You want apple juice.”
  • Make a scrapbook of favorite or familiar things by cutting out pictures or using photographs.  Group them into categories such as: things to ride, things to eat, things to eat as dessert, etc.  Create silly pictures by mixing and matching pictures.  For example, glue a picture of a dog behind the wheel of a car.  Talk about what is wrong with the picture and ways to “fix” it.  Count items pictured in a book.
  • Help your child understand and ask questions.  Play the yes/no game.  Ask questions like “Are you a boy?”, “Are you Billy?” or “Can a cat fly?”.  Encourage your child to make up questions for you. 
  • Ask questions that require a choice.  “Do you want an apple or a banana?” or “Will you wear the green shirt or the blue shirt today?”.  Make sure to provide choices that are both acceptable so their choice can be realized.
  • Expand vocabulary.  For example, name body parts and identify what you do with them.  “This is my nose.  I can smell cookies.  I can smell flowers.” You can expand this activity by asking “What do you smell with your nose?” Place familiar objects in a container.  Have the child remove an object, tell you what it is and how to use it.  “This is my ball.  I play with it and it bounces.”  Encourage turn taking and modeling the response by doing the same.
  • Use photographs of familiar people and objects to retell what happened or make up a new story about the picture.  “I went to the park with my brother.  We played on the slide and the swing.”
  • Continue to build vocabulary by introducing new words as you see a novel item/concept.  Examples might include something on television, in a book or in the community (park, church, store).
  • Use sequence words (first, last, next) as well as location words (under, beside, near) and opposites (up/down, in/out).
  • Offer a description/clue of an object and ask the child to identify it.  For example, “We sleep in it” (a bed), “It is used to clean the floor.” (a broom).
  • Help your child follow 2 or 3-step directions such as “Go to your room and bring me a book.”
  • Encourage your child to give directions.  For example, you follow his directions, such as what to put on his toast or how to build a Lego tower. 

You don’t need more or special time to practice speech and language.  Incorporate these activities into what is happening already- all day, everyday. 

  • Name objects, utensils and foods as you prepare meals in the kitchen.
  • Name the room you are in and what you are doing there. For example, “The bathroom has a sink, a tub and a toilet.  It’s time to take a bath.  We need soap and a towel. You are out of the tub.  It is time to get in.”


Read more about our speech therapy services here.  

Visit the Resources tab on our website to access helpful developmental charts.