What is Language: Language is basically the content of what we say. You will often see langauge goals broken down into expressive (what and how we say things) and receptive (how we understand our language) language skill devlopment.
- Talk to yourself about what you're doing, thinking, and feeling while engaged in an activity. Let your child listen and comment.
- Describe your child's actions while he or she is engaged in an activity. Talk about what you think he or she is thinking, feeling and experiencing.
- Name and describe objects you are using for an activity. Use words that relate to color, size, shape and function.
- Provide good speech examples. Speak in simple sentences. Model correct speech.
- Talk naturally, casually. Don't over-exaggerate.
- Listen to what your child has to say. Respond to questions, comments, ideas, plans, etc.
- Make talking fun. Use rhymes, jingles, finger plays, make-believe games and musical activities.
- Expand upon your child's language attempts. Build on what your child says. Add to it.
- Read to your child often. Read cereal boxes, road signs, store advertisements, game directions, TV schedules, etc.
- Ask questions. Find out how much your child knows and understands about what you're experiencing together.
- Provide more information, not less. Keep information relevant, meaningful, contextual, and purposeful, NOT broken into meaningless parts.
- Overlap information in as many ways as possible to increase repetition and help your child make needed associations.
- Language addressed toward the child should be appropriate to his/her developmental level. Some comprehension problems are not obvious and can be perceived as a lack of effort or attention initially.
- Use pointing, gestures and labeling to help develop relationships among concepts and words. Non verbal language is important, too!
- Try to use a slower speaking rate whenever possible. Use pauses in speech to highlight important points.
- Encourage your child to question what they don't understand.
- Consistently check for understanding. Ask your child to repeat directions and important information back to you. Question your child specifically to see is s/he understands what is expected of him/her.
- Try to reduce background noise as much as possible, especially during homework time.
- Be sure you and your child are making eye contact when you speak.
FUN ACTIVITIES FOR PRACTICE
- Choose books of interest to read to your child and for each page or paragraph (depending on the age of your child), ask comprehension questions, such as who, what, when, where, why and how. If they have difficulty with answering, assist them by modeling what a "where" answer sounds like; add information to your child's answers.
- Retell stories or books "in your own words," one-to-one or as a family. Model retelling, and then ask your child to do the same in a comfortable setting. If this is too much for your child, "chunk" the story or text and every so often have them tell a part or the story, or "what's happened so far."
- Read a variety of fiction and non-fiction books to your child. This will help in them in later grades when they read textbooks in science and social studies, when they read for factual information, and when they learn research methods.
- When reading together discuss new or complex word forms as you run across them. Children may benefit from highlighting or paraphrasing the following: words that are opposites (hot - cold), words that mean the same thing (big - large), and words that have more than one meaning (feet as a body part - feet as in measurement).
- Play categorization games with your child. For example, name as many animals, sports, colors, etc., as you can. Teach your child what to do and say if they don't know an answer. Start by asking them what they do know if they answer, "I don't know."
- Play same/different games with your child. State two items, for example. popsicle and ice cream cone; ask how the two items are the same and different.
- If your child uses incorrect grammar structures, "I gotted a A on my project," model the correct grammar by saying, "Oh, you got an A on your project."
- If your child is difficult to understand because she or he uses non-specific words during stories or explanations, (for example, "We went there and got the stuff for the thing,") you can label the non-specific words as "words that don't tell us much," or as "confusing words." Model for them how to be more specific. Example: "Your class went to the library to get books for the read-a-thon," now you tell me again.
- You can practice sequencing with your child by cutting out newspaper funnies, or cartoons. After you read them have your child put them in the correct order and tell the story. Encourage them to use terms such as, first, second, third, and then, next, last.
- Practice sequencing with your child by using a real life situation such as, "tell me how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich."
- Board games such as "Outburst Junior", "Apples to Apples Jr", "Tri-Bond", "Scattergories", and "Twenty-Five Words or Less", help increase vocabulary, understanding of categories and word retrieval skills.
- Games such as "Guess Who" and "20 Questions" aid in verbal reasoning and provide practice in asking appropriate questions. "20 Questions" also challenges auditory memory skills.
- Following recipes or steps to a craft project can improve sequencing and language comprehension skills. Having your child teach a parent or sibling a recipe, rules to a game or steps to a craft project can aid in expressive language skills and sequencing.
- Play "barrier games" together. Two people are seated across from each other with some type of visual barrier between them. One person creates something (e.g. a picture using a dot matrix, an easy paper folding activity, a route on a map) and must give exact instructions so that the other person can recreate the same thing without looking over the barrier. These games aid in using precise and clear expressive language skills as well as language comprehension skills.
- Tell stories using story starters (for example, "Jane sat down to breakfast as usual, but when she opened the cereal box something very strange happened") or story telling picture cards. Picture cards can include any pictures of potential characters, places and objects. The story-teller chooses pictures from each category at random and has to make up a story using these pictures. Others can "add on" to the story with new cards.
- Make predictions about a story or chapter of a book you read to or with your child. Discuss what you think the book is about or what you think will happen next. As you begin reading, discuss whether your predictions were right. After reading a story or chapter of a book to or with your child, talk about the key parts of the story. Who are the main characters? Where and when does the story take place? What problems do the characters have to overcome? What do they plan to do? How do they finally solve the problem?
- Discuss short informational paragraphs read to or with your child. What is the main idea of the paragraph? What are the details?
- Use verbal problem-solving skills to discuss situations that may come up in your child's life. What would they say or do? The Kids' Book of Questions by Gregory Stock has a wide variety of questions and situations.
ONLINE FUN FOR LANGUAGE
ABC Teach: http://abcteach.com/
ABC Ya: http://abcya.com
DLTK Kids: http://dltk-kids.com/
Do 2 Learn: http://dotolearn.com (click “Academics" at the top of the page; scroll down and click "Language Development")
Enchanted Leaning crafts for Kids: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/ (great for following directions, sequencing, and vocabulary)
Funbrain: http://www.funbrain.com/index.html (Find "Grammar Gorillas [parts of speech], "Word Confusion" [homonyms], "What's the Word?" [picture vocabulary], 2Bee or Nottoobee [verb conjugation), and "Paint by Idioms")
Homophone Games: http://www.vocabulary.co.il/homophones/
Idiom Connection: http://www.idiomconnection.com/
Idiom Games: http://www.vocabulary.co.il/idioms/
Learning Vocabulary Can Be Fun: http://www.vocabulary.co.il
Lonn Swanson’s vocabulary games: http://www.quia.com/pages/worldowords.html
Mrs. Ramsay's online games: https://www.quia.com/pages/allpicturesfun.html (scroll past articulation games to get to language)
Nina Loves to Name Things (classifying game): http://www.scholastic.com/earlylearner/timetogether/online/bll/nina/index.htm
PBS Kids: https://pbskids.org/games/ (opportunities for following directions, basic concepts, sequencing, listening comprehension)
Phonics flashcards & worksheets: http://www.softschools.com/language_arts/phonics/
Quia - mixed articulation and language games: https://www.quia.com/shared/speech_therapy/
Tracy Boyd’s online language games: http://www.quia.com/pages/havefun.html
Variety of speech sites: http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster2/sptherapy.html
Vocabulary Pinball: http://www.playkidsgames.com/games/pinball/vocabulary/defaultvocab1.htm
Wacky Web Tales (great for working on parts of speech): http://www.eduplace.com/tale