Join me in welcoming Jude McLean as she shares some insight on how to help kids speak properly.
How to Help Kids Speak Properly
The process of learning to talk is one that begins from the point of birth with your infant listening to how voices sound for the very first time. By 2 years old, most children’s vocabularies are quite impressive and between the ages of 3 and 5 are expected to exceed several thousand different words.
Naturally, the process of learning to talk isn’t always straight forward and children are destined to make mistakes along the way. Like with most things, practice makes perfect, so here are some effective ways to help your child to speak with proficiency and confidence.
Articulation Needs Guidance
First things first, it’s important to realize that your child will improvise when first beginning to learn new words and pronounce them. Sometimes this can result in them creating a completely new word to replace one they struggle to pronounce.
Although these efforts should not go without praise and appreciation, it’s essential to recognize that your guidance is needed to push them in the right direction. Correct pronunciation that is clear is what is recognized as articulation.
If you hear your child pronouncing a word incorrectly, kindly repeat the words back to your child and allow them to copy you, giving feedback if possible. Gradually, this technique will help them evaluate their speech and learn through doing.
Model Words Correctly
Although it may be tempting to try to correct your child if they mispronounce a certain word, it’s often not very helpful. This is because it’s very difficult for learners to distinguish between the correct and incorrect way to pronounce words.
Instead, give the child plenty of opportunities to hear the word pronounced and spoken correctly by you. Over-enunciate the word, sound it out and say it loudly as part of a normal conversation. This will allow them to better understand and repeat the word back to you.
Since practice is so fundamental to the learning process, it makes sense to encourage your child to speak more often. This is especially important for infants and toddlers who seem a little more reluctant to speak.
The technique basically involves tempting your child to speak. There are many ways to achieve this, for instance, instead of automatically giving your child access to things they like without any communication make it so they have to verbalize the request to you.
For example, if they have a favourite book or toy, place it up high where they can’t reach. This may seem a little mean, but it can really motivate them to speak.
Monitor their Media
In the age of the internet and where screen time dominates, it’s more important than ever to keep tabs on the type of media your child is consuming. That doesn’t just mean ensuring they aren’t watching potentially negative videos and programmes, but also relates to the type of media they are consuming.
The best approach is to ensure they are getting a healthy dose of educational media, particularly ones that place a good amount of focus on pronunciation, as well as learning the alphabet and complex sounds such as “sh” and “g”.
This doesn’t mean they won’t have just as much fun. Today, there are lots of media available that is both entertaining and educational – the best combination!
Acoustic highlighting is a simple but effective technique that involves over emphasizing certain words to draw attention to them. For instance, if your child is learning how to pronounce the names of certain flowers you could use a picture book to aid this task.
During the process of going through the picture book of flowers you can draw attention to a word they are a currently having a hard time with. You do this by slowly sounding each word out or drawing attention to them by making a song or saying them more loudly than usual.
Acoustic highlighting is a really helpful technique that draws attention to certain words, allows your child to focus and concentrate on the pronunciation of certain words.
Question and Answers
Asking your child simple questions is a really easy way to get them thinking about sentence structure. Since there are multiple potential answers it also allows them to start expressing themselves verbally.
Keep it simple and ask questions like “Do you want to go for a walk?” or alternatively “What games do you want to play?” These types of questions give children the opportunity to comprehend new words, repeat them and learn how to pronounce more complex sounds in the process.
It’s important to remember that learning to speak correctly and confidently is a gradual process. You are bound to face barriers along the way, but practice and persistence are the keys to success.
It’s also essential to note that although children do develop at different rates, there are some general speech milestones to keep tabs on.
If you do believe you child may be struggling or could have a speech disorder, it is always advised to seek the help of a speech and language professional. You can find such help through your school or alternatively via the official website of the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA).
Till Next Time,
Jennifer & Jude