It’s hard to believe summer is winding down and we will soon be gearing up for another school year. This is the last of my three articles for GOOD Morning Wilton this summer⎯the first was about jump-starting the late talker and the second was on articulation⎯and I hope they’ve been helpful.

Facilitating language development is this month’s topic. There isn’t always a reason “why” kids don’t start talking at the same time as their peers. Some kids just aren’t ready; some are on their own time schedule; some kids have older siblings that do the “talking” for them or parents who anticipate their needs; and some kids would rather jump in with sentences. Regardless of the reasons, here are some strategies to try to work into your daily routine:

  • Provide choices:  Always offer two choices  (e.g. “milk or water?” or “cars or ball?”).
  • Label/Name everything in your environment: Point out and name things around the house, outside, at the park, at the store, out the window when driving.
  • Talk about what you are doing: Have a running dialogue (even though it will likely be one-sided) about making dinner, washing dishes, getting ready for bath, etc.  (e.g. at bath time:  “turn on, fill up, more water, water off”).
  • Speak in short, simple utterances:  Try to keep it to 1-2 words when talking with your child (e.g. “want more,” “up please,” “put down”).
  • Repeat yourself:  If you are tired of hearing yourself talk or tired of saying the same thing, you are on the right track!
  • Imitate:  Imitate your child’s utterances to the best of your ability (even the jargon and nonsense sounds) so she knows she is communicating and you are listening.
  • Teach some simple signs:   Using simple signs (e.g. “more,” “all done,” “my turn,” “eat,” “help,” “please”) will help reduce frustration and might encourage some vocal attempts, despite a popular myth that it will delay his “talking” (a topic for another day).
  • Focus on early developing sounds you can see:  Work on consonants (e.g. /p, b, m, t, d, n/) and pair the consonant with a vowel (e.g. bababa, beebeebee, byebyebye, bobobo, boo).
  • Visual learning:  When asking her to try to label an object, hold the object close to your mouth better enabling her to focus on how the word is produced.
  • Break it down:  If he has trouble saying full words, try to have him imitate or say the first sound – (e.g. for “ball,” have him say, “buh”).
  • Play to what she likes:  Focus on vocabulary that is of interest to her – you will have much more success.
  • Socialize:  Set up play dates or head to a playground with other children – sometimes being around a “talking” peer gets the ball rolling.

Most importantly, don’t always anticipate your child’s needs! This is something we are all guilty of – you know what she wants, it’s easier, faster in many circumstances, decreases her frustration, etc. She needs to have an opportunity to use her words. A little frustration isn’t always a bad thing! Sometimes, it can be a motivator.

And finally….don’t forget to praise any speech attempt! Let him know you are proud of him. For those who shy away from praise, find a more gentle way to say, “Good job! Keep it up!”

Today’s article will conclude our summer series on speech and language development. I’d like to thank GOOD Morning Wilton for providing me a forum and the opportunity to share information about what I love doing! I hope you have found the articles to be both informative and beneficial. It’s been a pleasure writing them for you! If there is a specific topic you would like to hear about in the future, or, if you have specific questions about your child, please feel free to contact me directly.

Jennifer C. Lalor is a practicing speech-language pathologist here in Wilton. Her email address is