Children who are late talkers have a harder time imitating speech and using speech spontaneously. When choosing what to work on with these children, it is important to consider complexity, functionality, and how appropriate the target is to the child. Here are some categories and examples of words to target:
People– Most children’s first words are “Mama” or “Dada” because these people are most prevalent in babies’ lives, and the sounds involved are early developing phonemes. Home practice may also involve practicing the child’s name, names of siblings, babysitters, or anyone who often interacts with the child.
- Key words: Mama, Dada, me, etc.
Farm Animals– Farm animals are a great category to target. Not only can animals be labeled, but the sounds they make can also be targeted.
- Key words: cow, pig, horse, moo, oink, nay, etc.
Body Parts-As young children develop, they become more aware of their bodies. Receptively, children can work on identifying body parts on their own bodies. Once this is mastered, children can label their body parts.
- Key words: head, belly, foot, nose, mouth, etc.
Action words– Besides labeling nouns, it is also important for children to use verbs. Toys and physical movement often help to teach verbs.
- Key words: go, eat, drink, run, sit, etc.
Common objects– It is important for children to be able to talk about their surroundings. Working on objects found in the child’s environment helps develop labeling and requesting skills.
- Key words: cup, chair, ball, book, door, etc.
Repetitive words– Children learn best through repetition. Modeling words used to request more of something helps improve the child’s ability to communicate wants/needs, and decreases frustration.
- Key words: more, again, etc.
Location words– Prepositions are used to describe the location of objects. Again, toys and physical movement can be helpful in working on this skill.
- Key words: up, down, in, out, around, etc.
Social words- A major aspect of communication is the social use of language. When paired with gestures and body language, social words are a key piece to early language learners.
- Key words: hi, bye-bye, night-night, etc.
Describing words– Adjectives are used to describe nouns. Children learn through the use of their senses. These words can help children interpret the sensory input they receive.
- Key words: yummy, dirty, big, hot, etc.
Remember–the more you talk and interact with your child, the more language models your child will hear. Keep your language simple and appropriate!