How to Encourage Speech Development in Children

In the first few years of a child’s life, one of their greatest stages of development is their speech.  It is how your child will express themselves and communicate with the world.  Every parent adores the sound of their baby babbling and looks forward to their first words.  This is followed by pride as a child expands their vocabulary and eventually begins to say longer words and string together sentences.  This development does not happen by accident and parents can play a great contributory role to their child’s speech development.

Begin at birth

Amazingly, even newborns are beginning to develop their speech- you just don’t know it yet.  There is a lot of thought that suggests even at this early stage parents can be constructive in their child’s speech development.  The simple task of talking to your newborn, and making eye contact with them whilst doing so, teaches them that this is the way that we communicate.  It is this that will encourage your child to make their first sounds.  Talking to your child will also encourage them to smile. 

Silly Voices

It seems instinctive to talk to babies in silly voices.  Whilst you may feel foolish doing this, there is some benefit.  Using different pitch and tone in your voice sets an example to your child of the range of noises that the human voice can make.  They will eventually begin to copy the different noises that they make.

Repetitive Sounds

Your baby will begin to copy you making repetitive sounds from around the age of six months onward (this varies from child to child).  You are your baby’s role model.  They learn by copying you.  Try sounds such as ‘ba’, ‘da’ and ‘ma’ repeated over and over again.

Correction

As a toddler your child may say certain letters or sounds in words incorrectly.  Correct them by explaining what the correct sound should be.  If by the time your child starts school they are still have some problems with certain letters then it may be wise to seek the support of a speech therapist.  Discuss this with your child’s class teacher or your doctor as they may be able to refer you to the appropriate service.

Bedtime reading

Reading stories at bedtime will not only support your child in learning to read, it can help with their speech development.  It will introduce new vocabulary into their repertoire and teach them about using intonation in their speech.

Conversation

Finally, and possibly most importantly, include your child in conversation.  Give them the opportunity to input into the conversation by asking them direct questions.  This will also teach them about turn taking.