Expressive language delay is a condition in which a child exhibits less than normal ability in vocabulary or producing complex sentences, as well as recalling words, according to the National Institute of Health. In other words, the child may have normal-range language skills and understand verbal or written communication, but has difficulty expressing in words. Educational therapists, resource specialists, tutors, teachers and parents play key roles in evaluating, planning and implementing treatment after a child has been diagnosed. And there are many activities that parents can do at home that help improve language skills.
Talk, Talk, Talk
The Hanen Centre, a not-for-profit charitable organization that works to help children develop the best possible language and literacy skills, says you can turn any activity into a language-building opportunity for your child by doing something we do all day: talk. Describe what your child is doing, feeling or hearing throughout the day and encourage sharing information and storytelling. Paraphrase and expand on your child’s words. Explain activities by telling your child what you are doing as you are doing it. Talk about things you plan to do together. This opens the door to further discussions of before, during and after the plans are implemented. Look at family photos together – and talk about them.
Listen with Patience
The Center for Parent Information and Resources advises parents not force their child to speak. Encourage talk by asking open-ended questions that allow him to expound freely – and listen. Listen with interest to his words. Be patient and allow time to process information and respond even if you have to mentally count seconds to fill what may seem like an awkward eternity. Answer every time your child speaks – it is encouraging and rewarding. Only model good-grammar skills and avoid the temptation to be critical of your child’s mistakes.
Sing a Song
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association advises singing with your child. Learning new songs can help your child learn new words to increase vocabulary. And singing can be beneficial to developing memory skills. Not only can it lift you and your child’s mood, but singing enhances listening skills and expression of ideas with words.
Grab a Book
KidsHealth.org recommends reading aloud to your child. If he loses interest in the words, talk about the pictures and open dialogue. A child’s reading skills are critical to success in school. Reading is a fun activity which opens a world of imagination, enabling children to express and communicate more effectively.
Share in Playtime
Join your child’s world with one-on-one games. Play or do activities that hold his interest as you talk and use gestures that correspond with your words to model and convey meaning. Invite other children with expressive language to play along to help your child learn to express himself more effectively.