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Speech Development Blog by Tiffany Bartlett

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Repeat, Repeat, Repeat!

Speech Development Tip 2:  Repetition is key when children are learning new sounds and words.  During an activity you can repeat the same sound or word again and again.  If your child enjoys a particular activity, do it over and over.

When children are young and even as adults, learning comes from repetition.  Concepts and ideas aren't often learned the first time around.  If a child is doing something enjoyable, they will often do it over and over, even after the adult has lost interest.  I must confess that my children will sometimes repeat a joke or silly sound (ie: bark like a puppy) over and over until my nerves are shot.  They don't seem to tire from it. 

Personal Side Note:
I used repetition with my four year old, Emily, when I was trying to get her to ask for something, rather than demand, "I want...!"
I used to say, "Start with a question" each time she said, "I want..."  Later, I switched to "pardon?"  At first she would just say, "I want..." louder, thinking I didn't hear her.  But, she quickly learned to ask for what she wanted, when she heard me say, "pardon?"  Occasionally, she even asks without my reminder.  She's 4, I can't expect perfection!

When children are learning to talk, they need to hear correct speech over and over again.  Keep in mind, it helps to stay at their level or one step ahead of them.  Reading a college text book to your toddler repetitively will not teach your child Science 101, by the time she turns 5.  It's obviously over the child's head.  But, if your toddler is working on making sounds and you say "bah, bah, bah" each time you pat the ball, he is likely to catch on.*  If your toddler doesn't catch on right away, don't be discouraged or feel you've failed.  Persevere.  Learning comes at many different rates. 

* I would like to add this disclaimer.  There are many different factors that are involved in delayed speech.  I am not saying that all you have to do is repeat a sound continuously and your toddler will imitate you.  Using repetition is one method of creating a positive speech environment for your toddler.   

What are some different ways that you can use repetition to create a positive speech environment for your toddler?
  • As I mentioned earlier, repeat the same sound or word every time you do an action.
    • Say, "bah, bah, bah" each time you pat the ball
    • Say, "up, up, up" each time you stack the blocks
  • If you find that your child responds well to a particular activity, repeat that activity throughout the week.  You can change the sound, word, or short phrase while doing the same activity.  
    • For example, if your child loves to pass the ball back and forth, you work on different things while doing the same activity.  First you can work on signing or saying, "mine" each time you want the ball.  Another time you can say, "ball" or make the /b/ sound each time you get the ball. 
    • If you child loves play-doh, you can pat and poke the play-doh (working on the /p/ sound).  You can withhold some play-doh and work on asking for more.
  • Try to say the same phrase when your child does something repetitively. 
    • For example, if your child is spinning around in circles and falling down, use the same phrase each time he spins and falls.  "Dizzy, Dizzy...Fall down!"
    • Sing the same song or say the same phrase, every time your child brushes her teeth or needs to pick up his toys.

How long do you repeat an activity? 

  • As much as possible, follow your child's lead.  Continue repeating a sound or doing an activity as long as your toddler is showing interest or responding positively.
  • No matter how long you are repeating a sound or activity, maintain your enthusiasm!

Remember, repetition is one way to create a positive speech environment for your child. 

*This speech tip is introduced in week 2 of the speech calendar.         
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