Fostering Speech

July 31, 2013

Hello Motherburg readers,

My initial post here was about typical speech and language development. I hope you found it useful when listening to your little ones.

This post is about fun, simple activities for young children. These should help foster speech and language development, enhance your child’s experiences and add a new layer to your interactions:

1-2 years old

This is a period of a lot of growth – both physically and cognitively.

For the 1 year olds, expose them to physical activities that allow for lots of exploration. Chase and peek-a-boo are largely familiar activities. Try other ones such as:

  • songs with actions (The Wheels on the Bus, Patty-Cake)

  • hiding and finding favorite toys under blankets

  • container play (dumping and filling all kinds of containers {muffin pans, plastic containers like the ones salad often comes in} with pretend food, paper or larger balls – this will encourage using 2 hands together)

Remember to show your child over and over, then see what they do with the materials. Keep it fun and don’t expect any one outcome!

my niece Laurenne  (in her slightly younger days) and myself (I guess in my slightly younger days too)

For those approaching 2 years, try to incorporate all the senses (maybe not all at the same time though):

  • water play: fill a large bin with water along with some sponges, wash cloths, cups, larger toys; just explore and begin to pretend to wash

  • shaving cream : sounds strange but is true, spray it on the high chair tray and squish, push and make all types of designs

  • blowing bubbles: go beyond pop, talk about bubbles going up, down and other locations, popping with hands (even noses) and stomping with feet.

At this age, kids are mostly interested in the process (touching, feeling, smelling items, watching liquid spill on the table) more so than the actual final product. Appreciate the little moments along the way, this is what your child is thinking about and talking about (rather than the finished product at the end).

3-4 years old

I always joke with parents that I work with, that once your child turns 3, there are no secrets in your family. Whatever is happening in your home, your child is likely talking about out there in the world. Here are some activities for these new chatter boxes:

-  reading books and pretending to be animals or characters depicted

-  being sous chef: let your child assist with cooking (helping put something in the microwave definitely counts). Let your child throw items in the garbage can or stand on a chair and help mix or add items during preparation.

- pretending doctor: taking care of baby dolls, going to the store: get ready to use your own imagination along with your child

my college roommate’s daughter, Katelyn G.

At this age, there are many questions to be answered and explanations to be given. Keep the conversation going with your children and explore the possibilities – ask questions like what if, what’s next and what do they think will happen. Their answers and yours may surprise you.

Next month, I’ll venture into the land of children’s books and give some tips for looking at them with your youngsters. Thanks for taking the time to read this post and consider the suggestions. As always, if you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, contact a professional speech-language pathologist.


Vanessa D’Auria is a licensed, experienced SLP providing home based services in Greenpoint, Williamsburg and LIC. For more information about Vanessa, visit or email directly at


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