Speech therapy is never done inside a vacuum, and it takes a village to help your child through their communication journey.
Speech therapy is never done inside a vacuum. Besides contacting a speech and language pathologist (SLP), it takes a village to help your child through their communication journey. While your child’s speech therapy sessions are of the utmost importance, so too is their therapy practice at home. Just remember that this practice is “added” and that it shouldn’t replace your child’s speech therapy sessions entirely.
If you’d like your child to make fast progress, then get your family involved and supportive of the speech therapy process. In fact, studies have shown that children with highly involved families generally move through speech therapy more quickly.
Here’s How You and Your Family Members Can Help
1. Respond positively
Be sure to keep your family in the loop about your child’s speech therapy progress. So, you can encourage them to be positive and receptive when your child puts their new communication skills to use. Praise goes a long way in building both your child’s communication skills and self-esteem.
2. Do activities that your family feels are important to them
It’s possible that your mother prefers practicing with your child using flashcards, while your father prefers to use the Speech Blubs app. You know your family and their system best. So encourage your family members to use their unique preferences and contexts to help your child with their communication development.
3. Encourage communication creativity
Help your family understand that there are various forms and modes of communication which your child engages with differently. For example, maybe your child just isn’t remembering the flashcard vocabulary related to farm animals. Ask their aunt or uncle to take them to a local farm and learn the names of the animals there. Engaging the senses and physically seeing things often helps children remember names and their various associations.
4. Prioritize pictures
Speech therapists will usually work with sound flashcards (for articulation) and themed vocabulary pictures (for language). Ask your child’s speech therapist for copies of these cards, pictures, and vocabulary. Send them out to your family members to subtly do therapy with your child by using those words without them even realizing it! You could even send short videos of therapy sessions, demonstrating how the cards, pictures, and vocabulary can be used in meaningful activities.
5. Don’t push
Some family members may not want to get involved, and that’s okay! They’ll have a reason for not wanting to be “hands-on” and can help you and your child in other ways. It’s important to respect the priorities and needs of your family members as well.
6. Use natural settings
Speech therapy is most effective when it takes place in a child’s natural environment. So, encourage your family to follow your lead and make sure they engage your child in therapy activities as naturally as possible. By doing this, your family members will develop meaningful learning opportunities for your child, as well as provide them with information and different teaching strategies.
7. Maintain home habits
It’s important children stick to their routine regardless of whether they spend time with you or a family member. Structured routines help children feel more secure and also make good activity markers that show when an activity should and shouldn’t take place. For example, eating dinner too late not only disrupts eating-related language learning but is likely to eliminate bath time-related language learning as well.
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8. Use “We” language for the correct mindset
Let’s be honest, the minute someone gives you a correction that starts with the word “You,” finger-pointing causes our defenses to go up, and conflict is likely to follow. Laying blame doesn’t do yourself, your child, or your family any favors. You’re all in this together.
Use the “We” mindset, so your family will feel part of the team, not like a General who is out to get them. For example, “We were off the mark with that one” sounds a whole lot better than, “You were off the mark with that one.”
9. Take things slowly
Oftentimes, families feel that it’s their responsibility to make a difference and help you “fix” your child. While this is nice, it’s not realistic to expect that your child is going to achieve speech therapy progress quickly. Take things slowly so that they interact calmly and help them with their speech therapy in small, meaningful ways.
10. Listen to their concerns
Nobody likes a “know-it-all,” but family members often make interesting observations and have valuable points that they’d like to share with you. Let them know that you take them seriously and that their concerns are your concerns. Making sure you, your family, and your child’s speech therapist are all on the same page is extremely important for your child to be well-cared-for in their communication development.
11. Respond positively (again)
This time it’s you who need to respond positively to family members when they try with your child and attempt speech therapy-related activities. Good interaction skills and encouragement goes a long way. Positivity increases communication and the desire for your family member to keep going with your child’s communication activities.
The more your child practices their speech therapy, the more likely they are to make significant strides in their communication abilities. Commitment and involvement from parents and family can be the turning point in the development of your child’s communication skills. Helping your child communicate can be frustrating at first, but stick with it, and you’ll surely be happy with the result.
Remember that you always have an ally with Speech Blubs. If you aren’t sure which activities your family members can do with your child, then download Speech Blubs. Help stimulate your child and target their communication using some of our fantastic communication-centered activities. Contact us for additional support if you’re not sure what your next steps should be.
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The author’s views are entirely his or her own and may not necessarily reflect the views of Blub Blub Inc. All content provided on this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgement, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.