Can you guess the word kids hate the most? Homework.
Say it in front of a room full of kids and you’re guaranteed to hear some groans.
Those groans are understandable. Homework has the word “work” in it, and kids don’t like to work at home after spending hours learning at school.
With that being said, homework is a necessity.
The more children practice a skill, the better they become at it. Unfortunately, there’s simply not enough time to get all the practice they need during school alone.
That’s why homework is a necessity which applies not only to school, but to every skill we try to acquire in life — and speech therapy is no exception.
You should encourage speech practice at home to not only improve your child’s speech, but also to let him know his practice isn’t limited to the walls of the therapist’s office.
Here are 10 activities to develop your child’s speech skills at home.
1. Sidewalk Chalk
Kids love drawing and writing, especially on big surfaces like a sidewalk. You should let them write or draw words on the sidewalk, but only if they pronounce every word they write/draw — make it a rule.
There’s just so much fun to be had as there are so many possibilities with sidewalk chalk.
For instance, you can create your own hopscotch game with speech words, color speech words after writing them, or make your own life-sized board game with them.
Plus, anything drawn or written on a sidewalk with chalk can be erased with barely any effort. So why not let your kid indulge in a fun activity that improves his speech skills?
2. Picture Scavenger Hunt
Here’s how to play this game. Go through your home and take pictures of as many things as you can that has the target sounds assigned by your child’s therapist.
Whoever takes the most pictures wins.
The winner, of course, has to say each word clearly in order to win the prize.
To keep a souvenir, you can make a fun book of the pictures taken during the game.
3. Reward With a Treat!
Does your kid grumble when you ask him to do his homework?
If so, you should try to motivate him with a reward. For instance, ask him to say three to five target words in return for a small treat.
Treats can be small foods, like candy, chocolate, M&M’s, or even non-food items like stickers and tiny toys.
Puppets are perhaps the only toys that encourage kids to speak more.
So why not buy one for your kid? Better yet, buy two so that you too can join in on the fun while practicing target speech words with your kid. Or make one!
5. Playdough Fun
If your kid likes playing with playdough, he’s going to love playdough fun.
The game works like this. You take a random word and then shape your playdough into that word. Other players guess what you have created. Whoever guesses it first and pronounces it right wins the game.
6. Fun at the Playground
At the playground, you can practice all the speech sounds. Does that stretch? If so, let us change your mind by giving you some examples:
- You can practice the /p/ sound by giving someone a “push” down the slide.
- Or on the swing. Stop the swing every so often to give the child more opportunities to ask you to “push, please”
- You can practice the /b/ sound by giving a “big” push or going down the “big” slide.
- You can practice the /s/, /t/, and /w/ sound by saying, “swings” “trampoline,” and “watch me slide”.
The point of our examples is that if you’re creative, you can practice almost any sound on the playground.
7. Hidden In Sand
Whether you are at the beach or in your backyard sandbox, make it a speech activity by burying objects like laminated pictures for your kids to find.
When your kid finds an object, he should pronounce its name to earn double the points.
One last thing about this game. Be sure to bury the objects within a small area and not too deep, so that they can be found easily by little hands.
8. Paper Ball Basketball
Is your little one a fan of basketball? Then he’s going to love this game.
Here’s how it works:
- Write a practice word on a piece of paper and the number of syllables in the word below the word.
- Crumple the piece of paper into a ball. Make a dozen balls, at least.
- During the game, take turns. Whoever’s turn it is should choose a ball, open it up, say the word and then crumple it back into a paper ball and try to throw it into a trash can.
- If the word has one syllable and the player makes the basket, they get one point. Similarly, if the word has two syllables and the player makes the basket, they get two points — and so on.
9. Snuggle Time With Books
Kids love bedtime stories.
So why not make use of this time by reading interesting books with your kid while helping him find pictures or words that start with the target sounds assigned by his therapist?
When you find a word with a target sound, repeat the word two to five times, so that your child can learn how to say it correctly. After you’re done, have your child try to pronounce it. You’ll see a big improvement in no time.
10. Talk During Dinner
Dinner is the best time to practice target sounds. From the food to table manners, there’s just so much you can talk about. For instance, you can discuss:
- Where to put the napkin on the table when eating.
- Who the napkin belongs to. Say, “It is Mommy’s napkin”, “It is Daddy’s”, or “It is mine”.
- What the food taste likes. Encourage your child to say what he likes about his food by discussing what kind of foods you enjoy. Use words like hot, cold, spicy, sweet, soft, smooth, and crunchy.
If you’re concerned about your child’s speech development, our team of speech-language pathologists (SLPs) can answer any question you may have. Reach out today!