Speech and Language for Young Children
Ashley Jowett
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2022

Speech and Language for Young Children

As we wrap up Better Hearing and Speech Month, celebrated each May, I am eager to share some hearing and speech-development tips for young children from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. You can use them to help the young children (1 - 2 years old) in your life develop their hearing and speech skills.

Talk to your child. Use a lot of different words, including “big” words. Your child’s capacity to learn and understand them is likely bigger than you think. If they don’t know what a word means, they will likely learn to ask before long. You can make talking to your child really fun by using stories, songs, nursery rhymes, and word-and-gesture games, like pat-a-cake. All have a role in helping your child learn and grow.

Use gestures as you speak. Name, describe, and point to objects and people. Ask your child to point to and use words for these people and objects too.

Develop your child’s awareness of sounds. Talk about the sounds you hear and help your child look in the directions of sounds. This is a great way to make conversation as you take a walk together. You can notice the sounds of engines, birds, sirens, and music from passing cars. You can also talk about animals and the sounds they make.

Monitor their hearing and understanding. At ages 1 – 2, your child should be able to point to the body parts you name, follow 1-part directions (like “roll the ball”), understand simple questions (like “what’s that?” and “where are your shoes?”), listen to stories and songs, and point to the pictures in books when you name them.

Look for speech development. Your young child should use many new words, including those with the letters p, b, m, h, and w. They may start to name pictures in books and ask questions (like “what’s that?” or “who’s that?”). Children who are reaching developmental milestones will begin to use two-word phrases at this age. They may say, “more apple” or “no bed.”

If you notice your child is not talking or hearing in the ways you would expect, contact your pediatrician. Your pediatric provider can make a referral to a developmental educator or speech-language pathologist who will help identify your child’s needs and help you and your child address their challenges. For more information, visit www.asha.org.

Rebecca Carey, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist at SVMC Outpatient Rehabilitation, part of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center and Southwestern Vermont Health Care in Bennington.

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