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Weekly Activities to Help Your Toddler Talk

In the speech calendar, I focus on two major methods.

1. Using Play to Encourage Speech

There are many videos that exist to help your toddler learn to talk. While these videos are not bad, I take a more personal approach.  The truth is that YOU are the best one to teach your toddler to talk. Videos, DVDs, and other tools can be used as a supplement, but YOU are the primary teacher.

How can you teach your child? Simple....PLAY with your child!

That's right, just get down on the floor, grab some age appropriate toys, and begin playing with your child.  For toddlers, most of their learning is done through play.  They explore and touch.  They climb and fall.  In this calendar, I encourage you to join them in this time of exploring.  The activities provided are examples of what I call, directed play...playing with purpose.  Your are playing and having fun with your child, but you are also focusing on a specific sound while you are do these activities.

These activities are designed to give you blocks of time to model correct speech for your child.  The focus is on encouraging your toddler to talk.  It's okay, if your child is not saying as much as you'd like or is not yet as intelligible as you'd hoped.  Don't give up and try to remain positive when you're playing with your child.  However, please keep in mind that this speech calendar is not meant to be a substitute for speech therapy.  If your child has a significant speech delay, use this calendar as a supplement to professional speech therapy.  You may find that your speech language pathologist has a similar play-based approach!

Key components to directed play.

  • Have tons of Fun - focus on playing and connecting with your child.
  • Stay positive.  Showing frustration will only hinder your child's progress.
  • Repetition is key.  If you get bored or feel awkward repeating the same sound or activity over and over, don't give up!  Remember this is the same kid who could play peek-a-boo for hours and still giggle every time!  

2. Incorporating Simple Signs to foster communication 

In my experience, I've found that no matter how hard you try, you can not force a child to talk.  You can however, incorporate sign language to reduce some of the frustration while your child is learning to communicate with words.  With sign language you can physically take your child's hands to produce the signs.  Sign teaches your child a positive way to get his or her point across, rather than developing negative ways like screaming, whining, or hitting. 

A common concern for some parents is that their chlid will become dependent on sign, rather than using words.  I have not seen sign as a crutch, but rather as a stepping stone to speech.  As your child learns to talk and the signs are no longer needed, your child will naturally drop the signs and replace them with words.  

Thoughts from Parents

Thank you for your email. I am so glad you emphasized the "repetition" aspect on helping me to get my 20 month old to talk more. I have tried the activities you emailed. I thought they were great. They were some things my husband and I were already doing, but they sure were a big help. They are very simple and easy to do anytime. We have seen a difference this past week and we will continue to try your strategies. The paper is posted on our refrigerator to remind us of what to say and do to help our child. I am glad I ran into you as I searched on the internet for ways to help my child learn to talk more. Thanks again!!!!!!!!

Mother of 2,
Alycia Niemeyer