June 4, 2014

Smiling mother and son pointing and looking at a butterfly in the gardenWe all look forward to a child’s first words. But did you know that children must first develop prelinguistic skills before they can begin to speak?

Helping your child develop prelinguistic skills is easy and fun! Our North Houston therapy team shares these five simple tips:

Encourage eye contact. Position toys and yourself at her eye level. Sit on the floor across from her while you read her a book and hold the book near your face. When you show her an object, hold the object close to your face. Do not give her objects she wants until she looks at you to ‘request’ it.

Use simple gestures. Wave hello/goodbye, nod your head for ‘yes’ or shake your head for ‘no’, and point to say ‘look’. Toddlers often use these gestures to communicate before they use words. By using these with your child, she will learn them, too.

Improve her joint attention. Joint attention is your child’s ability to look at an object you’re holding or watch an activity you’re doing. Improve her joint attention by identifying and pointing at items in picture books. Point out different things to her while you’re together and encourage her to look.

Teach her how to take turns. Give her an electronic toy to play with, and take turns pushing the buttons with her. Play with blocks and take turns stacking them with her. Roll a ball or toy car back and forth with her. Taking turns is an important skill to develop to hold conversations.

Teach her how to imitate you. If she makes a sound, make the same sound. If she dances, you dance. After you imitate her a few times, try something new and wait for her to imitate you. You can use this activity to help her learn and practice the different sounds she can make with her mouth.

But most importantly, remember to be creative, silly and have fun!

For information about our pediatric speech therapy services, visit our website.