Join pediatric speech-language pathologist Laura Mize, M.S., CCC-SLP as she answers very common question I hear from moms and dads of late talkers… where do I start? What words do I try to teach first?
Here’s the specific question we’re using today…
I know that children find it easiest to say certain sounds first. What are those sounds? For a child who is only saying a few words is it best to try and help them say words formed from certain consonants and vowels? What words do you suggest it is best to first work on with a child who hardly says any words?
In this podcast, we’ll be talking about the factors that you should consider when thinking of vocabulary targets for late talkers!
Here’s what I use to decide where to start with vocabulary targets:
Choose words for a child’s individual preferences. What does she LOVE? Start with those words for her! Sit down and list a child’s favorite people, foods, toys, and activities and use those for early first word choices.
Choose high frequency, familiar words. In other words, think about what’s FUNCTIONAL. Pick words a toddler hears often. These are words a child should understand in order to complete his daily routines and those he should learn to say in order to get his needs met. What’s “functional” for one kid may not matter for another. For example, if a child doesn’t ever eat an “apple” then “apple” is not a good first word. Academic words like colors and numbers and ABC’s are not functional for any toddler. How many times in a day should a child say “octagon” or “3.” Not very many!
Choose words that are fairly easy to say. Don’t begin with multisyllabic words or words with difficult sound combinations. Early targets would not include words like refrigerator, basketball, or helicopter.
Choose words with sounds and patterns a toddler already uses. This is easier for speech therapists, but parents and therapists in other fields can do this too. Make a list of a child’s words by recording how he actually says the word and look at that list of sounds. For example, if a child says “muh” for milk, you would write down the sounds “m” and “u” on your list – not the vowel “i” or “l” or “k.” Many times parents are surprised to discover how few sounds their children use! Once you have your list of what sounds a child already uses, you may be able to pick a few new words that are (conceivably) easy for a toddler to learn.
Listen to the show above for a full explanation and more examples!