Speech Therapy Tips to Make the Most of Reading With Your Child
The gift of reading is one that keeps on giving. It sparks imagination, expands vocabulary, develops comprehension and listening skills – all things that help children excel in academics. Our Akron speech therapy team recognizes too that reading is key in speech and language development for children.
The American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) reports kids with communication challenges have a higher likelihood of difficulty with reading and writing. In turn, this will impact their school performance, social development and self expression.
Parents can play an active role in helping bolster their child’s reading skills. Researchers at The Ohio State University discovered that if children are read just one book daily, they will hear nearly 300,000 more words by the time they get to kindergarten.
Children who are read to from infancy will start to develop these skills sooner. When reading is a fun, bonding activity, children love it. When they love it, they choose it. When they choose it, they’re on their way to becoming better readers.
Speech Therapy Tips for Fun Reading
Here are some of our speech therapy tips to get the most out of your reading routine:
- Make it a date. If you have a routine where you spend a certain block of time reading with your child each day, it becomes something to which they look forward – a special time just for you. It doesn’t have to be at bedtime, though many families find this to be the easiest. (As our occupational therapists will tell you, having a regular nightly routine can also help with better sleeping habits.)
- Find books they like. Speech therapy sessions often incorporate books with bright, interesting pictures, silly story lines and rhyming words for younger children. These are to keep kids engaged and encourage them to listen and communicate. Feel free to mix it up with whatever you think your child might enjoy. Consider their interests. (Do they like horses or race cars? Give them a chance to learn more about those!) Let them pick some out on their own next time you’re at the library or bookstore. Ask other friends with children for their recommendations.
- Don’t rush. Pause on the pages. Let them take in the pictures and soak up the words you’ve just read. Say each word clearly. It might seem a bit unnatural, but it gives them a chance to comprehend the story line.
- Engage. Your child will benefit if you simply read to them, but they’ll get much more from it if you ask questions that will get them talking. Start with simple yes/no inquiries. As they get older, delve into more critical thinking questions. Answering a question like, “What’s happening right now?” helps them work on comprehension skills. Asking why questions help with oral language and vocabulary. Asking them what they think might happen next is good for developing predicting and inferring skills.
- Reinforce the positive. If a child doesn’t answer a question correctly or wrongly labels an item, resist the urge to say, “No.” Just point to the object and say what it is. And give them lots of praise when they get it right. This will encourage them to keep trying to answer, without fear of “getting it wrong.”
- Take time to explain new words. Maybe not every single new word the first time or second time around, but a handful each time. This will help them better understand what they’re reading.
- It’s Ok to read the same book 50 times. Repetition is important in speech and language development, especially for young kids – and even more especially for children with special needs. It improves both vocabulary and comprehension.
- Spice it up. Make facial expressions. Change up character voices with volume or tone. Show emotion. Be dramatic. It will be a lot more fun for both of you.
- Reflect. When you’re all done, spend a couple minutes talking about their favorite character or “the best part.” Ask them about a time when they went through something similar to the character’s experience or what they would have done differently if they were the one in the story.
For more ideas or book recommendations, ask our Akron speech therapy team!
Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – provides speech therapy to children in Akron, Cleveland, Brecksville-Broadview Heights and surrounding communities. We also offer summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email.
A ‘million word gap’ for children who aren’t read to at home, April 4, 2019, The Ohio State University, Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
More Blog Entries:
Receptive Language Problems a Top Cause of Late-Talking Toddlers, Speech Therapists Say, March 28, 2020, Akron Speech Therapy Blog