Your child’s language goals may not be as easy to understand as a typical articulation goal. The truth is receptive and expressive language tasks are used in just about every situation. You may be targeting their language skills without even knowing it. Here are a few basic things you probably already do at home so give yourself a little credit!
Following directions. Whether its getting ready for school in the morning or getting ready for bed at night, you’re giving one, two and maybe three step directions (e.g., put on your socks and shoes and wait by the door or pick out your pajamas and brush your teeth) on a daily basis. This is a great language task. Just remember, if your child is slower to process information or has limited expressive language use short phrases and simple language. It’s also important to gain your child’s attention and make eye contact before a direction is given. The child’s train or baby doll may be distracting them from hearing and understanding your message–it may not always be them ignoring you ;)
Language Expansion. As a parent, you’re likely correcting or adding onto your child’s phrases already. For example, if your 2-year-old points to a dog and says “doggie,” you’re likely to agree and comment, “You’re right Ava, that’s a big brown dog!” This is an instance in which you naturally provide your child with a more adult-like phrase. You’re teaching adjectives, superlatives and colors. Good work!
Story Retell. Do you ask your child what he or she did at school? If so, you’re working on receptive and expressive language skills! Most times, the child’s response might be “I don’t know” or they tell you the same rote phrase, “Played with Thomas and ate an apple.” These are my clients’ favorite responses too! I don’t accept them and you shouldn’t either. Maybe your child doesn’t want to tell you what happened but it could be that they don’t know how to recall the information and verbally express it. The child may have difficulty with sequencing events. This is when I get out my dry erase board and consult with the parents or the teachers. Hopefully you get a daily report at school so use that information to prompt some real responses. If the child can’t come up with something they did at school, I usually play the guessing game and draw possible options (the visual cues often help). For example, did they pick a job of the day when they first walked in the classroom? If yes, draw the job board. Next, did they go to centers? If yes, ask which center through process of elimination and draw that. You can keep this going until you get 3-4 facts about the day. Then, walk through the day with the child using language and connecting the events with sequencing terms (first, next, last).
Continue providing your child with a language-rich environment and watch their speech and language skills flourish! :)