As parents, we only want what is best for our children. That is why when we see that our child has difficulties, we try as much as possible to help them overcome it. When it comes to communication development, one of the best ways to help is with speech therapy. Through speech therapy, you and an SLP can set different goals for your child that will help them improve their speech and language skills. Don’t just think that speech therapy happens during a therapy class. There are plenty of things parents can do every single day to help their child to grow.
One of the best things parents can do is be aware of the way in which their child communicates. If you have already met with a speech-language pathologist, make sure you are keeping track of how your child communicates in a variety of settings. This can prove invaluable data for your SLP and can help them tailor therapy to your child. But what should you look for? Start by noting why your child communicates and how they do so. Are they requesting things? Are they commenting on things? Are they greeting people? Are they not communicating at all? If they do communicate, do they do so through gestures, single words or full sentences? Parents should also note who their children are communicating with. Does your child only talk to you? Or are they willing to communicate with peers and even strangers?
Every time you meet with your SLP here at the Sandbox Therapy Group, you can pass on all of the information you have to them. This information, which your SLP would have no other way of getting, can make a real difference in your child’s therapy and help your SLP to provide truly bespoke treatment for your child.
At Sandbox Therapy Group, we encourage parents to look at every interaction as an opportunity. Parents are fantastic at learning to anticipate their child’s needs. The problem is, when you get so good, your child no longer has the opportunity to realize their own needs and learn how to request them. Similarly, parents are very good at asking questions of their children. In the same way that anticipating their needs stops children from asking for things, continuously asking children questions stops them from learning how to initiate a conversation or have one that isn’t a series of adult questions they must answer. Instead, we encourage parents to wait for initiation, make comments rather than questions, and have back-and-forth conversations rather than question and answer conversations. For further advice, the Hanen It Takes Two to Talk program has some wonderful tips on things like this.
How to get started
One of the best ways to get started observing and communicating with your child is through your daily routine. Think of all of the things that you do together with your child, from waking up in the morning and getting dressed, to driving to preschool, having dinner and reading a bedtime story. These are excellent opportunities to observe how your child communicates and to change the way in which you communicate with them. So instead of pouring your child a glass of orange juice in the morning, wait until they ask for it. Rather than initiating conversation during a car ride, wait until your child says something first. Remember, every activity is a new opportunity to help your child meet their speech therapy goals.