Speech Pathologist Tips for Early Language Toys
Toys and Games to help children’s early word development
Our Brisbane Speech Pathologists work with families to help their late talkers develop their first words. One of the frequently ways we support families, is with how to choose, and use, age appropriate toys to elicit words that are easy for toddlers to attempt.
There are many reasons why children might be late to talk..
Children may have difficulty using words for lots of reasons, and an individualised assessment is the best way to find out why. This assessment guides the family, with a plan, and short term goals to help progress their child’s communication. Typically, working with parents in a coaching format, to learn how to help their children at home is the approach we take.
How can we help at home?
If children are finding it difficult to use words verbally to communicate, there are some strategies you can try at home, to help create a fun space for new word learning.
Set up the environment
Make sure there are opportunities for your child to communicate. Consider how your child currently communicates – do they point, gesture, vocalise? Does big brother or sister speak for them? We want to create opportunities for, and encourage, our toddlers to speak for themselves. Rather than anticipating their every need, create communication moments each day, e.g. put favourite things just out of reach, creatively ‘sabotage’ familiar routines for a bit of fun, or use waiting… and allow your child to gesture/vocalise, and then model the word for the moment.
Choose your toys purposefully
Below are our four favourite types of toys for late talkers at home!
1) Toys you can put things in!
Ball Towers, Cookie Monsters, Post Boxes – there’s no doubt kids LOVE nesting, stacking & posting.
Model words like:
in, go, more, where, up, down
2) Toys that shoot things UP!
Rocket blasters, Elefun, ball poppers. These types of toys demonstrate cause & effect – when you push the button – something great happens!
Model words like:
push, go, up, wow, more, my turn
3) Toys you can blow and pop!
Bubbles & Balloons – the old favourites! We particularly LOVE the sticky bubbles – that you can catch and hold. These sticky ones slow down the whole process, so rather than ending up with a cloud of bubbles, and an overexcited toddler, you can blow one or two – catch them on your fingers, talk about them, and pop them in places!
Model words like:
up, go, big, small, sticky, high, low
4) Toys you can look at together – books!
Developing joint attention skills (ability to look at, and learn from, the same object or activity) is an essential communication and learning skill. Likewise, an early love of literature, and literacy gives children an enormous advantage in their communication and knowledge. It’s never too early to begin looking at books together – start in infancy!
Remember to talk about the pictures and ideas in the book, and how they match your own lives, don’t just read the words!
We are teaching, not testing. Language learning should be filled with love, and fun, it is not a test. Use the activities your child naturally loves, and work from there into more challenging ones.
Book an individualised assessment if your child is not able to learn new words
Don’t follow the ‘wait and see’ approach. Waiting to see – is waiting for failure. We want to build early, and successful communication skills in our little ones! Seek professional help from a speech pathologist if you feel like you need more direction, an individualised plan, or if your child is not progressing similarly to their peers.