Learning to speak is a significant aspect of language development for children. As such, when doting parents perceive that their children are slow to attain speaking fluency when compared to their peers, they may feel a need to explore the option of speech therapy for kids.

Can parents identify problems with speech development?

If parents think that their children are lagging behind in speech development, they should keep in mind that some difficulties with linguistic skills are totally normal for specific age groups. When dealing with the topic of spoken fluency in a language, we are actually dealing with many considerations such as pronunciation, comprehension, volume modulation, articulation, general confidence and the ability to switch between formal and colloquial forms of a language in appropriate social settings. This list is far from exhaustive, making it tremendously difficult for a non-professional to diagnose a speech impediment simply by comparing a child’s development with other children of the same age.

… making it tremendously difficult for a non-professional to diagnose a speech impediment simply by comparing a child’s development with other children of the same age.

In cases where there are genuine speech developmental issues, the underlying reasons should first be identified before a solution is decided upon. Problems in learning to speak can arise due to many reasons such as a lack of confidence, apraxia of speech, autism and auditory developmental issues. Sometimes several of these root causes can combine together to create a complex problem that needs to be carefully addressed by an experienced professional.

How can caregivers and parents help?

Caregivers and/or parents can play a big role in developing a child’s competency in the spoken language in the following ways:

  1. Read to your children from a young age, even if they are obviously too young to understand. Reading out aloud from a book gives children the opportunity of observing conversations between imaginary characters as they interact with their surroundings. It allows them to better understand how language can be used in context of a situation.
  2. Talk to your children and respond to them. Although very young children will not understand what you are saying, they may try to respond with sounds anyway. When parents respond to these sounds, children start to understand how a conversation is carried out, and that confidently providing a response is part of a normal conversation and nothing to be shy or embarrassed about.
  3. Take your child on mini field trips. These can be simple outings to the zoo, a park or even just a leisurely stroll along a beach. During these trips, parents should continue to talk to their children and ask for their inputs. This allows your children to gain confidence in speaking in non-familiar environments in close proximity to strangers who may overhear the conversation and even unexpectedly provide a response to your child.

Conclusion

There are several ways for concerned parents to seek help for their children who may be struggling with speaking. Diagnosing children on their own is almost never a good option. Even if a child is simply a slower learner than others and has no actual speech developmental issues, a session with a speech therapist could be useful for parents to better understand the areas of development that they can work on at home. Experienced speech therapists will also be able to introduce effective coaching and teaching methods to parents that they can try with their children. In cases where a professional determines that a higher level of intervention or focused attention is necessary, parents should explore all available treatment options and perhaps even seek a second opinion before making an informed decision in the best interest of the child.

Brought to you by the KidsEnglishCollege™ Editorial Team.

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