How to teach your child to talk


I thought I would re-post again all of the language strategies  you would need to help your little one or big one to become a better communicator.  Listed below are the strategies I use to help the little ones I work with.

And the four “rugrats” above are my inspiration for doing what I do everyday: helping the little ones I work with to become better communicators….and helping the mommies and daddies help their little ones get where they need to be.

Hope this was helpful….and remember to have fun!




Expressive language in the simplest terms is a child’s ability to communicate her needs.  Language at times can be non-verbal for a little one….she may point to what she wants or need…..she may bring you a book to non-verbally ask you to read the story…..or she may pull on your leg to obtain your attention. 

Even infants start to develop their expressive language skills in many ways…..think about when you sing to your baby….and she smiles….and then coos in response to what you were singing…..she’s telling you…”I like that mama….sing it again.” 

Often times when I go to evaluate a child under three…..a parent will express their concerns regarding their child’s limited language….and that the primary reason for the evaluation is expressive language concerns.  As I am administering the standardized tests, collecting information and observing the child….I see that she has plenty of language, and that she is able to express her needs and that she understands that words have meaning and that words “work” for her when she is trying to obtain a need.  What I come to realize then….is that the parent is actually really concerned with their child’s articulation skills.  This means that the concern is related to how clear a child’s speech is during communication.   When young children are learning to use language and understand language it is not of concern as to how clear the her speech is……. the chart below explains at what age a child will begin saying a certain sound….and at what age they should typically have mastered the sound. 

Sound Development Chart


STRATEGIES TO ENHANCE LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT-I use the strategies below in order to improve a child’s expressive language development.  What I find is the most beneficial is that you can incorporate the strategies into any activity you are doing at home or out in the community.  They can be utilized during bath time, getting dressed, cooking or baking…..and playing outside in the sandbox.  If you have a specific activity that you would like me to help you “play with” more therapeutically, please send me a reply.


Expansion:  You can expand on what Your child says.  When he tells you “Falled down.”

(indicating that someone fell down) You can  reply, “Yes, I saw that Janie fell down,

but she’s okay.”  (Your correction was made in a conversational voice). 

Self-Talk:  This is a fancy way of saying you can talk as you do something, just like one

of those TV chefs who say every step of what they’re doing.  “It’s time for lunch. 

Now I’ll put the forks on the table.  Now I’ll put the spoons next to the forks.” 

(During this one-sided conversation, pause after each statement so that Your child can respond.)

Parallel-Talk: You can use parallel talk so when Your child puts that book on the shelf

you can talk about what he’s doing.  “Your child, you put the books away so carefully.

I see you put the big red book on the bottom shelf.”

Corrective-Echoing: When Your child says “Her frew dat ball.”  You can say,

“You saw Janie.  She threw the ball.”  (slightly exaggerating the “th” sound.) 


***These strategies are taken from Adapting Early Childhood Curricula for Children with Special Needs.)


For me, the two most effective strategies listed above are self talk and parallel talk.  We as adults spend too much time asking our little ones questions….when one of the best ways to elicit language is by talking…

SELF TALK allows your child to hear the language that is tied with the action.  So now matter what you are doing, what you are playing with or where you are:home or out in the community….use can use this strategy to help elicit language.  An easy way to understand how this strategy works simply is this: describe what you are doing…allow your little one to hear the words that are attached with the action.  If I was playing with Mr. Potato Head…one of my favorite toys…..and I had the yellow nose….I would say something like….”Yellow nose in”……what I like to do too… make mistakes….and this depends on the age of your child….and how much language she is understanding.

If she is understanding language…and the concern is just limited expressive language abilities….there are many fun and motivating strategies that I use to help the little ones communicate.

For example:  MAKE MISTAKES…..again playing with Mr. Potato Head….holding the yellow nose….I may say: I have the eyes, they go on top….the goal is for your child to say “No, nose”.  Or…..”nose front”.  How much she says will depend on how much language she is capable of producing….making mistakes…..and being silly….really is a motivator for the little ones… sure NOT to confuse her….if she does not have a good command of understanding language….then this strategy will only confuse her……one of the little girls I work with has responded so well to this strategy…..she at times tells me “I be teacher today”……she is becoming a much better communicator and is learning to use the words in her vocabulary to obtain a need…..

that leads me to this……sometimes children will have many words in their vocabulary….but only use those words to label objects and people in their environment…..they have not yet learned to use these words on a spontaneous and functional level….to obtain a need or desire….so using the strategy self talk should be effective in eliciting language… well as making mistakes….and being silly.


PARALLEL TALK is very similar to self talk….however, you are describing what your child is doing during play.  Since your little one does not have the language to describe what she is doing during play… it for her…..keep your words simple….sentences not too long…..and let her hear the words that are tied with her actions.  For example……if she is blowing bubbles with you…by the way….one of my favorite language enriching activities….describe what she is doing…..”blow bubble…..big bubble….bubble is going up……up…up…up…..uh-oh…..pop…..bye-bye bubble…..all gone……OOOOOO….more bubble”……remember too…..put a little bit of melody to your words….a sing-songy voice….this helps with language development….language is on the left side of the brain….and music is on the right….tapping into both areas….gives the brain more information.

More on parallel talk: When you allow your child to hear the words that are tied with the action….she is learning to understand what words mean….because she is engaging in the play activity….. and most importantly….the visual cue (the actual act of blowing the bubbles)….gives her more information as to what words actually mean.  For example if you were saying…..blow bubble…..and you were not playing with bubbles… might be hard for your little one to understand the words without seeing the bubbles….and the wand….and the action of putting the wand in the bubble….and blowing a bubble.   So using your language during play….and tieing your words with the action….and using the strategy parallel talk….should improve your little ones understanding of language……and the more you model words and sentences……the more you are stimulating her brain…..the more repetition of the words and sentences she hears….the easier it will be for her to start using these words… remember….to keep talking……stop asking too many questions….especially if your little one is struggling to use words to communicate…..


VERBAL REQUESTS:  should you try to make your child say a word?…..and what if the word you are trying to get her to say is not in her vocabulary… that fair to place that demand upon her?

I often give parents this example….if you wanted a cup of coffee….and I told you that you needed to ask for the cup of coffee….but you had to say it in Mandarin…..well…I do not know about you…..but for me this would be impossible….because I have no idea how to say coffee in Mandarin……so when your little one wants juice….for example….and you know for sure that this is what she wants….because she is pointing to her cup…(and remember not a sip cup…and not a straw sippy that has the insert in the cup……best to use an open cup with assistance…..or a straw in a cup)……so you know that she wants juice….but she can not say it… not demand that she says juice…and that she can not have the juice until she says juice….remember she can’t…..just like I can not say coffee in Mandarin……what you can do is…model the word for her….say “juice” she points to it….say “juice” as you hand it to her……and sooner or later she will make a verbal attempt to say the word…juice.






I made up the name for this strategy…..but I am sure many therapists use this strategy and incorporate it into their therapy sessions.  It is a favorite of mine and so easy to use by parents.  I find it to be very effective in eliciting spontaneous and functional language…this means the words that children use….all on their own…without having to be prompted….and the words are used to obtain a need….something they want.  You can use this strategy both verbally (with words) or non-verbally (without words). 

Non-verbal silly Mama:

During any interaction with your child…make mistakes….and see if she verbally corrects you.  During therapy, when I am leaving someone’s home…I will take my gloves and without saying anything….put them on my feet over my shoes.  Often times the little ones think I am so silly and ridiculous that they start to laugh and spontaneously tell me where my gloves go. 

In your home you can use this strategy when you’re brushing your hair…maybe pretend you are about to brush your teeth with your hairbrush.  You can put the toothpaste in the refrigerator….and see if your little one says…”No mama, in the bathroom.”  When you’re getting your little one dressed….try and put her shirt on her legs….her socks on her hands…there are so many things to be silly with…..and in my experience….the really shy kids….and the kids that are often resistant to engage in an interaction…they really respond to this strategy.

Think about it: 

Did you ever put orange juice in your coffee instead of milk….or try and turn on the television with the cordless phone….or try and dial the remote control instead of the phone……your kids will laugh and you will be helping to elicit spontaneous and functional language.


Verbal Silly Mama:

Doing the same silly things listed above….now just tie some words with it….so you are incorporating the self talk strategy.  Remember self talk means that you are describing your own action or play with words (tieing action and words together)…..  so it would sound something like this…”It’s time for me to go now….I have my hat… it goes…on my feet….okay….I have my gloves….and they go on my belly.”  I have not yet met a child…that doesn’t think this is just hysterical…they almost always use their words on a spontaneous level to correct you.




It is pretty safe to say that hearing your child call you mommy, mom, or mama probably is up there on your list of important words when your little one is not communicating.  I will use the term mama throughout this description….as that is what my kids call me….and that is why I am the speech mama….lol.  Anyway…I have been working since 1993 as a speech and language pathologist….and over the years…I know from experience how important the word mama is for a little one’s mother to hear. 

There is one therapy session that I will never forget…and when I think about it….to this day…my body gets chilled….and it really brings tears to my eyes… before I get into that story…..I want to give you a few strategies that have worked for me….in helping little ones say Mama. 

Now parents will say to me…I don’t understand…..she knows that I am the mama…..she comes to me for comfort….I have heard her repeat the word mama when I say it…..but she never ever ever calls for me when she wakes up in the morning while in her crib…..she never says my name when she needs to be comforted and she never asks for me.   So the goal is for us to teach your little one that the word Mama…..has meaning and that it will get your little one what she wants when she says it…..we need to teach her that saying “Mama” means something….making the connection between the word and the actual “mama”……once she learns and understands that the word mama means something…..she will begin to use mama with meaning.



Therapist and child should go inside the child’s room.

Mama should be on the other side of the door.

Mama should knock on the door.

Therapist in a very exaggerated way should say “Who is it!?”

Mama should knock again.

Therapist…with increased inflection and facial exaggeration should say “Who is it!?”

Therapist should open the door and shout: “Mama!”

Therapist, mama and child should engage in this activity a few more times….then stop and start this again on a follow up session.  Sooner or later your little one will say your name.



Same concept as above….however, cover mama with a blanket when the child is not looking…and in a fun and silly way….creep over to the blanket….and slowly take the blanket off……and shout Mama!   Continue this a few more times……end the play activity and engage in it again during a follow up session.


Have family make a video of mama hiding behind furniture in the house…..have mama “jump up” from behind the furniture….therapist then says “Mama!” everytime mom is seen……Continue this activity a few more times…end the session and follow up in the next session.


Make a photo album of all family members.  You should use a photo album that is small, easily held by your little one….and each page only holds one picture.  The picture should only contain one family member per picture….so each family member has his or her own picture.  Go through the book with your little one…and just name the person in the picture.  Do NOT place any language demands on your child….YOU do the talking.

Okay….so back to my story…..I will refer to the boy as Zach…..

Zach, his mom and I had engaged in the above activities over many sessions….and one day while looking at a picture photo album of his family members…..and while being videotaped (how amazing that this is on tape)……Zach looks at the family members pictures….he turns to the page of his Mama….he says Mama as he looks at the picture….then looks up at her and says…..”mama!”…….and that was it….he made the connection…..he knew that mama meant HIS mama….and from that day forward….he continued to say her name…..mama and I both cried that day.







I love using music during therapy to improve a child’s ability to say words.  Music is a great strategy to improve your child’s language skills….and remember you do not have to be a great singer to use melody, rhythm and music to improve your child’s language skills.  Music is on the right side of the brain….and language is on the left….when you tap into both areas of the brain…you are helping your child to try to use her words to communicate….so if I was playing with Mr. Potato Head……I might take the green hat….and put the hat on MPH’s head….and say: Hat on…..being sure to change the pitch and inflection in my voice…putting a little bit of melody to the short phrase….and I would continue to do this as I was playing with MPH.  This strategy during play is called: self talk….refer to above more information about self talk.  

You can also place some demands on your child by asking her to tell you what she wants….so it might look something like this:

Therapist: Holding the hat in one hand and a nose in the other hand…and then saying: Do you want hat or nose?  And as I was saying the sentence….when I say the word hat….I would move the hat closer to the child’s reach…..and when I say the word nose…I again would move the nose closer to the child’s reach.

Child:  She may not have language yet to verbally state what she wants…but she is able to point to the desired object….so as she points….say the desired word for her.  You are placing a demand on her in the sense that you are requesting her to make a choice…however….if she does not have the language to say the word HAT….she may just your job is to talk for her….so she hears the word that is tied with the object… you say it for her (HAT)…model correct pronunciation so that she hears clearly how the word should sound.

Child: Now if she is able to say the word HAT….be sure to expand her verbalization….by saying something like: “Green Hat“…….or as she is putting the hat on MPH…..say: “Hat ON.‘  Remember again to use melody in your speech to help your little one to say the word. 



It’s hard to NOT give your little one things that you know she wants….if  you know she’s thirsty you may just give her a drink….if it’s lunch time you may just make her lunch…if she wants to play with her blocks…you may give the blocks to her so she can play. 

As mama’s we do anticipate what our little ones need….and sometimes are quick to just give them want they want.  However, by NOT anticipating her needs or desires…you are setting her up to make an attempt to communicate.  Maybe she will point….or verbalize a sound or word to let you know what she wants.  Below are some quick tips on how you can elicit language.


During therapy I like to put all of my toys in Ziploc bags…most of the little ones can not open the bags…..then I take a few Ziploc bags out of my bag of toys….and I just place them in front her.  Usually….she will make an attempt to open the  Ziploc bag….and when she can not….she will hand the bag to me….and sometimes verbalize “open”….if she is not able to talk yet….I am sure to tie my words with my action….so as I am opening the bag…I say open.   Now for parents at home….it is NOT realistic to put all of your toys in Ziploc bags….however…you can place desired toys…out of reach…but visible to your child.    Hopefully….once your little one sees the toy….she will point or verbalize a sound or word to obtain the toy.  If she points….give her the toy…..and as you give her the toy… sure to say “blocks”.

When it is time to sit down for breakfast…..and mama and daddy have a bowl full of cereal and a spoon….and your little one has a bowl full of cereal….but she does not have a spoon.  Will she ask for one?…..give her a chance to initate her language and make a request…….see if she makes a verbal or non-verbal attempt to let you know that she needs a spoon.

I also like to make mistakes during dressing…….put her socks on her hands….her hat on her feet…..she if she makes any verbalization to tell you that her socks do not go there….or maybe she points to her feet….letting you know that is where her socks go……if so be sure to say..”Socks on feet!  Yes”.

If your child has a few favorite television shows…..go on the computer on Google images…print a few pictures of her favorite show.  Rather than just turning on the TV for her….see if she can point to one of the pictures….to tell you that is what she wants to watch….then be sure to provide the word for her.  Eventually she will learn to use words to communicate to you.

As mamas I know it is hard to not anticipate and meet the needs of your child or children.  However, if your little one is struggling to acquire language…the strategies above may help to elicit words from her.






Asking questions to your little one will help to elicit language….and also will help in their understanding of language……however…you have to be sure of what your expectations are and what your little one is capable of understanding and communicating.

Let’s start off with the first picture above….you can clearly see that the girl is jumping.  A great strategy to help your little one both understand and use language is this:


As you are jumping…ask your little one: What am I doing?……wait and see if she is able to answer.  Hopefully the visual of you jumping will cue her to say jumping….even if she is not understanding the phrase: What am I doing?….she may answer correctly by saying JUMPING….because the visual gives it away… this is not cheating….it is helping your little one to understand language better….because you are tieing your action and words together. 

Now if she does not have the language to answer the question….you answer the question for her…..with a simple one word response: JUMPING.  Being sure to change your pitch and inflection…giving your verbal production some melody. 

Continue asking simple action questions….remember to choose actions that are familiar to your little one… is a list below:

1. clapping

2. eating

3. sleeping

4. sneezing

5. crying

6. walking

7. running

8. Smiling

9. coughing

10. dancing



Now let’s refer to the second picture above…



In order to help your little one understand WHAT questions (in reference to objects) and also use her language to answer WHAT questions….you can use the strategy listed below:


Find familiar objects in your home….you should use objects that your child is familiar with….so that answering the question is not too much of a challenge.  Point to an object and say: What is that?  Now your child may answer the question and say: BUS….because you are pointing to the BUS.  She may not be understanding the actual question: WHAT IS THAT?  However, the more you repeat this type of question…and point to the object as you ask the question…..the easier it will be for her to answer the question without the visual of you pointing.  So moving forward….she will eventually understand a question like: What is that?……without the visual (you pointing to the object). 

Now if your little one can not answer the question…..answer it for her…changing your pitch and inflection…putting a little bit of melody to your answer…with a one word response: BUS.  Questions like: What is that? as you are pointing to the object…are the easiest types of WH questions for your little one to answer. 

Remember children learn through repetition.  Continue to practice the WH questions in reference to actions and objects.  And if your child can not speak yet….and can not imitate what she says….no worries….take the pressure off of her…….you do the talking….use the self talk strategy…(find this strategy above on this page:  teach me to talk page).


Last night….on our way to the supermarket….the kids asked if they could play “cash car“.   This is similar to “cash cab“, a show they enjoy watching on television.  What a fun and language enriching game…..I never thought to play it with them before…..Gregory and Katie both initiated the idea.  They were not only enjoying the car ride…we were all laughing hysterically…..okay so how do you play…and what prize are you playing for….in my kitchen I have a mason jar that I keep extra change in…….so I told them that if they won “cash car” they could have all of the money in the jar.  To them….that was like winning lotto…..Gregory said: “really we can keep all of it….now way….really mama!”  FYI: there was a total of $1.50 in change in the jar….so many pennies….that to them….it was a significant amount of money.

To play the game….they had to answer the questions correctly….being sure not to get three strikes before we arrived at .  We love Uncle Giuseppe’s….even the little ones love going there….it’s and adventure all in itself.

We also asked them red light challenge questions….. for the red light challenge…this meant that the question was more challenging….as we waited at the red light..and they have to be sure to answer the entire question before the light turned  green……and if they got the question right it was worth double the points….so for each question they got correct they earned ten points…and for the red light challenge they would earn twenty points.  Still the prize…no matter how many points….as long as they did not get three strikes…was all of the money in the mason jar.

If you would like to play “cash car” with your kids…..below is a sampling of questions I asked… sure that when your child answers the question…they re-state the question….this will help them in school…when they have to answer a question….re-stating the question…and being sure to answer in a full sentence.  I will give examples below:



1. When is Dad’s birthday?

Answer in a full sentence: Dad’s birthday is January 1, 2011

2. How many months are there in a year?

Answer in a full sentence: There are twelve months in a year.

3. What is Andrew’s middle name:

Answer in full sentence: Andrew’s middle name is George.

****So I think you probably get the idea of re-stating the questions….question four and five below are red light challenge questions:

4. Name ten foods Andrew would NEVER eat. 

FYI….My Andrew is a very picky eater…many sensory issues when it comes to eating.  I have not yet had a chance to discuss feeding concerns in young children…and approaches that are beneficial to addressing sensory concerns when eating….but I will be sure to post about feeding concerns specific to sensory.  A sensory feeding issue refers to a child’s inability to eat certain foods….not because of an INABILITY to bite, lateralize, munch, chew and swallow….rather a sensory concern…because the child does not like how the food: LOOKS, SMELLS, or TASTES….this means the food may not look appetizing….Andrew can just look at macaroni salad and almost gag…because it does not look like he could eat it…..sometimes it is the smell that a child can not tolerate….and most importantly when it comes to sensory issues and feeding…the texture is too much for the little one to handle…..for Andrew it is the texture of many foods….but especially the banana.  Here is a great link if your little one has sensory feeding issues:

Below is a brief description of SOS feeding therapy:

 The Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) approach is a developmental feeding therapy that allows the child to interact with the food in a playful, non-stressful way. It helps increase the child’s comfort level by exploring different properties of foods, including the color, shape, texture, smell, taste and consistency. The SOS approach follows a systematic hierarchy to feeding, from tolerating foods in the room, interacting with foods, smelling, touching, tasting and eventually eating the food.


Okay….so back to another red-light challenge question:

5. Spell your first and last name backwards…..and tell me the first sound in your first name and the first sound in your last name.

Back to the regular questions…not red light challenge questions:

6. Name five animals

7. Name five Zoo animals

8. Name five Farm animals

9. Tell me which one does not belong in the group and why: apple, shoe, banana

10. Name the four seasons

This was probably the most fun Gregory and Katie had in the car….in the next few weeks I will make a list of “cash car” questions….and keep adding to the list….and will have them saved under the categories link-under Cash Car.

And when we got home from shopping…Katie and Gregory counted out all of the money…what a great math lesson!

Cash Car” challenge…..see if your little ones can come up with the questions…and you have to answer them…..this is definitely more challenging.   Can they come up with the red light challenge questions…understanding what it means to make a question more challenging?!  Use the silly mama strategy….find above on this page….so…… make mistakes when answering the questions….and ask your little one to edit your answer and help you to get it right!


I thought I would start posting what a typical  speech therapy session for me looks like….so that you can help your little one at home.  So for today’s post I have focused on improving a child’s understanding of language and use of language.  By this I mean….the session below is an example of what I would be doing with a little one that is having difficulty in her understanding of words and also in her use of words to make her needs known.  I hope that you find this post helpful….and I will continue to add posts that describe a typical therapy session.

Melissa and Doug’s products are definitely a favorite of mine….above is a puzzle that I frequently use during my sessions.



With the puzzle board in front of the child….and all of the pieces removed and not in the child’s sight…..I would hold up two puzzle pieces.  So maybe the pig would be in my right hand and the cow in my left hand.  Showing the little one both pieces…I would say:

“Do you want pig?”(bringing the pig closer to her as I say the word pig)

“Do you want cow?” (bringing the cow closer to her as I say the word cow).

Now a few things may happen….she may not have words just yet to say cow or pig…so she may just look at the cow…indicating that she wants the cow….or she may point to the cow…if she is able to understand….that by pointing (a non-verbal way to communicate) she is able to obtain a what she wants.  So whether she points to the cow…or just looks at the cow….I would then say:

“Cow…want cow.”….and hand her the cow as I am saying the words ”Cow…want cow.”.

I would continue this play activity….showing her two choices…and asking her the same question… the goal is for your little one to eventually understand the words: Do you want cow. Do you want pig?…and the goal really is for her to eventually understand the phrase: Do you want?….the more you tie the visual (puzzle piece of the cow) with your words: Do you want cow?…..the more you are helping her to understand the language that is tied with the visual. 

Parents will often tell me….she knows what a cow is….or she knows what a ball is…..or she knows what a cup is…..BUT…does she understand the language that is attached to the word BALL….when the entire sentence is: Do you want the BALL?….children that present with processing concerns, receptive language concerns or understanding concerns…often have a difficult time in understanding these simple directions.

So what often happens to children when they don’t understand the language?  In my experience…when they do not understand langauge…and you are asking her questions…or placing a verbal demand upon her…or giving her a consequence or expectation such as: You can not have the cookie until you eat your dinner.  First eat your dinner…sit in your chair…and then you can have the cookie.   OH BOY….that was way too much language for a little one that does not understand language.  My experience has been this….at this point your little one…MAY have a melt-down…a tantrum….fall to the floor and start crying and screaming…WHY… is NOT because she is a “bad girl”…and I never like to use language that says “she is a bad girl”…her behavior may not be acceptable…but she is not bad.  In this case though…her behavior is not acceptable…because she is NOT understanding language….poor thing. 

So what do we do???? It is my job to help you help your little one to understand language.  I often use the words: “First and Then“…..and when I say the word FIRST….I put up my index finger…indicating that she has to do something first..whether it is clean up her toy…eat her breakfast…..and after I point my one finger up….I put to what I want her to do…..and say: “clean up”….as I am pointing to the toys I want her to clean up…..and then I say: “Next“……as I point two fingers….and then say…”Next get cookie”….as I point to the desired choice..what she wants….pointing to the cookie.  Eventually your little one will understand FIRST and NEXT…she will begin to understand language…consequences…expectations…..and become less FRUSTRATED….become more compliant….flexible…and adapt to the demands of language.


Okay… let’s go back to our therapy session.  If your little one has the language to point to the cow…and also say cow….GREAT!!!  Let’s use the expansion strategy to expand her sentence….so when she says COW….this is what I would say:


I want……(now point to the COW…and prompt her to fill in the blank (this is a carrier phrase…find more about this under the word finding page).  She should be able to fill in the blank…and say cow.

Now the goal is for her to eventually say the entire sentence: “I want cow”.  The more you repeat the above activity…using the carrier phrase…the easier it will be for her to make a request using the longer sentence.

Expand this to your daily routine with your child….if she is requesting: “juice”…..and you know this because she pulls you to the refrigerator…and points to the refrigerator……and you know FOR SURE…that she wants juice….take out the juice and an UNDESIRED CHOICE…such as milk….she does not like milk…and would never request it… let’s go back to the above strategy and use it in this scenario:


Hold the milk in one hand the juice in the other….ask her…

“Do you want juice?” (bring the juice closer to her)  Do you want milk?” (bring the milk closer to her)

Now in my experience…child with understanding concerns…often will say the word they last heard….because they KNOW they have to answer a question….they know they have to say something….but what was just said to them may sound like this: dkjdlksjdf  kdjalskjdflksj klkroue milk.  So she has NO idea what you said…but heard milk…so is going to say milk.  Your next step would be to give her the milk in a cup…..she will not want it…..go back again and ask:

Hold the milk in one hand the juice in the other….ask her…

“Do you want juice?” (bring the juice closer to her)  Do you want milk?” (bring the milk closer to her)

Eventually…your little one will understand the language that is attached to the visual….and she will answer the question…whether it is with a word…pointing…or looking at the desired choice.

Remember…if she points to the juice or looks at the juice….give her the juice and say: “Juice…want juice.”


Back to the therapy session:

Finish the play activity with the puzzle….now it is clean up time..let’s work on understanding again:

Show her two puzzle pieces…any two that you have now taken out of the completed puzzle….put the two pieces on the table…the cow and pig….work on the following directions…with her mom next to you to help.

So the set up is this:

Mom next to child…two puzzle pieces on table…Ziploc bag to put the pieces bag in…tell child: “Give pig to mom“…if she does not understand…..tie a visual with your language….point to the pig…then point to mom…and say: “Give pig to mom“.  If she still does not understand use the READY, SET, ACTION!  strategy….under the teach me to understand page…this means…you will help her to pick up the pig and give to mom (hand over hand)….as you say: “Give pig to mom“.  Then give her a verbal direction and say: “Put pig in bag.”  Continue until clean up is finished.  Change your directions…sometimes asking her to give a puzzle piece to mom…sometimes she is to put the piece in the bag.

I hope this post was helpful….I will continue to add “speech at home” posts…so you can learn how to help your little one….please post any questions.

About Kim

My name is Kim Marino and I have been practicing as a licensed speech and language pathologist since 1993. I work on Long Island providing diagnostic evaluations and services to children from birth to age 21. My experience is vast and am proud to say that I work with children that may present with articulation and phonological concerns, oral motor feeding concerns, Down Syndrome feeding, cognitive rehabilitation, auditory processing delays, receptive language delays, cleft palate feeding and sound development and expressive language delays. Most importantly, I am the mother of four amazing children and am happily married to my childhood sweetheart. I feel blessed to have my four children and so lucky to share this journey in life with my husband. I always had it somewhere in my head that I wanted to develop a blog or a website of some sort so that I could provide families with an additional that parents could help their little ones become a better communicator. And as I was developing this blog....I realized that I also needed to share the stories about my life and my children....and the funny things along the way that help to keep me smiling. Whether you are a working mother or not...finding balance between home, children and life can be a challenge....I hope that my blog helps to bring a smile to your face..and also some tools to help you help your little or big one. I hope you enjoy! Kim
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