Using Speech Therapy Strategies in Daily Life
As a parent, you may be wondering how to get more involved in your child’s speech and language development. Your child may be seeing a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) once a week for an hour or less. How do you make the most of these sessions, and help your child apply what they are learning in the session to their everyday life?
Parent involvement makes a difference in how your child’s progress with their speech and language goals! Therapists are limited to the time they are able to spend with the child, and often the context in which they work with the child as well. Parents are present during meaningful everyday situations and act as familiar conversation partners, which means they are able to maximize the number of learning opportunities the child is provided, across a variety of contexts. By applying therapy strategies at home, intervention can be ongoing rather than limited to the scheduled therapy session!
A great way to start is by speaking with your child’s SLP. Asking for feedback, techniques and strategies to use will ensure that you are targeting speech and language in a way that is consistent with what your child is working on during their therapy sessions. Sessions are planned according to each individual child’s goals, and tailored to suit their learning style as well. Your SLP can provide you with a lot of great information that is unique to your child and their progress! The clinician may also encourage you to participate in speech sessions, which affords for direct instruction about how to progress with your child’s speech and language goals.
In addition to any specific strategies your SLP may provide, there are a number of strategies that can be applied to daily life to assist with your child’s progress.
Read with your child
Shared reading provides a great opportunity to target your child’s receptive and expressive language. You can discuss the story and pictures with your child, providing them with labels for objects and explaining concepts to them. You don’t have to read the book word-for-word either – get creative! Engaging in shared reading stimulates speech and language development.Many books also provide opportunities to learn concepts such as shapes, colours, animal sounds, etc.
Talk about daily activities
Introduce your child to language that is related to familiar daily activities. You can describe and narrate what you are doing while making dinner, provide labels for clothing items as you get them dressed, describe things you see while in the car, etc. You can also point out shapes, numbers and colours to your child as you encounter them in your life.
Dedicate time to home practice
Depending on the type of goals your child has, the therapist may leave some home programming work to be completed outside of the session. This is often the case when targeting speech goals, and may be in the form of a word list, sentences to produce, a fun worksheet, or a game which includes the sound your child is working on. Just as you dedicate time to complete homework assigned at school with your child, you can dedicate time to complete their speech homework together. While practising, make sure to minimize distractions in order to keep your child engaged, and try to make it fun! Many therapists working on articulation will often incorporate games to motivate the child during the session. Have your child choose their favourite game, and practise their sound in between turns! Games, activities and crafts all serve as incentives to complete their home practice – the work feels more like play! Practice can also take place during daily activities, such as meals or car rides, where there are conversation opportunities between yourself and your child. Encourage them to produce their sounds, talk about things you see, ask them about their day, or make up stories together with an emphasis on correct production in order to integrate speech and language practice into your established routine.
Provide language opportunities
Encourage your child to engage in conversation by asking questions, expanding on what they say, engaging in joint attention when your child is interested in something, and providing communication temptations. Communication temptations encourage the child to communicate with you by using words, gestures or eye contact. An example would be putting some toys just out of the child’s reach so that they have to request your help to get them.
Provide your child with language when they need it
It is important to listen to your child and acknowledge all of their communication attempts, even if they are difficult to understand or do not contain a large amount of speech and language. We want to continuously encourage the child to use the language they DO have in order to communicate, while also providing them with the language they DO NOT have. Consider what your child might be trying to communicate to you, and then demonstrate the words you believe they would use if they had the ability to do so. This demonstration will help increase language learning, and will also help decrease the frustrations they may have due to limited expressive language skills.
Model correct use of speech and language
When your child struggles with expressing themselves through speech or language, modelling is a great strategy and easy strategy that can be applied in any situation. If your child is working on articulation, you can model words which include the target sound using clear pronunciation for them, with an emphasis on that sound. Encourage your child to imitate your use of speech and language by having them repeat what you say to them! If your child is working on language goals, labelling objects they encounter in their everyday lives, narrating your routine behaviours, and describing things like pictures and actions will help expose your child to increased learning opportunities. Even if your child is not using a large amount of words themselves, receptive language can still be targeted through modelling the proper use of a variety of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and pronouns.
Practice recasting when speaking with your child
Recasting is a form of modelling where you repeat what your child says back to them using clear, correct pronunciation and language. This subtle correction provides your child with a model, and is a great alternative to overtly correcting what your child has said. For example, if your child says something such as “him has the book”, a recast of this sentence would be “Yes, he has the book!” – with an emphasis on the correct use of the pronoun “he”.
Shorten and simplify
For children who are struggling with language, it helps to shorten sentences and simplify the vocabulary. If your child has limited language skills, we want to be encouraging them to be using as much meaningful language as possible. Emphasizing the production of important words such as nouns and verbs in a sentence helps the child communicate their message, despite limited language skills.
Remember – if you have any further questions about what you can be doing at home to help your child progress towards their goals, talk to your Speech-Language Pathologist or Communicative Disorders Assistant!
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.). Activities to Encourage Speech and Language Development. Retrieved from:
Lowry, L. (n.d.). Parents as “Speech Therapists”: What a New Study Shows. Retrieved from:
Pamela, Mooney, J., Jones, L., Kiefer, J. K., Gudmundsdottir, B., & Asha. (2019, June 18). Collaboration Corner: 10 Easy Tips for Parents to Support Language. Retrieved from: https://blog.asha.org/2014/07/15/collaboration-corner-10-easy-tips-for-parents-to-support-language/