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, and 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 for your child to make fast progress, then getting your extended family to be more involved and supportive of the speech therapy process could be the key you need to make this happen. 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 concerning your child’s speech therapy and their progress. That way, 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
Perhaps your child’s Grandmother prefers to practice with your child using flashcards while their Grandfather 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. Why not 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 and send them out to your family members so that they can subtly do therapy with your child when they see them without them even realizing it! You could even send short videos of the therapy session, 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 surely have a reason for not wanting to be “hands-on” and can possibly assist 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. This means that you should encourage your family to follow your lead and ensure that 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
Regardless of whether your child is spending time with you or a family member, it’s important that they stick to their routine. Structured routines help children feel more secure and also serve as good activity markers that indicate when an activity should and shouldn’t take place. E.g., 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,” and finger-pointing is the minute where our defenses go up, and conflict is likely to follow. You don’t do yourself, your child, or your family any favors by laying blame. You’re all in this together. Use the “We” mindset, and your family will see you as part of the team, not a Corporal Major who is out to get them. 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 their dedication is admirable, it’s not realistic to expect that your child is going to fly through speech therapy in the blink of an eye. Encourage your family members to take things slowly so that they can interact with your child 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 your family members when they engage with your child and attempt speech therapy-related activities. Good interaction skills and encouragement goes a long way because 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 you and your family members can be the turning point in the development of your child’s communication skills. Helping your child communicate can be incredibly frustrating at first, but with perseverance comes high reward, and you’ll surely be happy with the end result.
Remember that you always have an ally with Speech Blubs. If you aren’t sure what to do or what activities your family members can do with your child, then you can download our Speechblubs app to help stimulate your child and target their communication using some of our fantastic communication-centered activities. You can even contact us for additional support if you’re not sure what your next steps should be.
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