Speech, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy

The Speech and Language Department exists to work with children who require support for language development. This section of the district website has been developed for parents and students to use to help reinforce positive speech and language habits at home. In addition, it should be used by parents and/or caregivers as a resource to enhance their understanding of typical speech and language development.

Listening to your child

Listening is half of communication. There are many ways to help your child listen.

Help your child learn to be a better listener and he or she will become a more effective communicator. First, make sure your child is hearing normally. If you have any concerns about your child’s ability to hear, speak to your pediatrician.

Listening skills help a child develop friendships by participating in the normal sharing of conversational give and take. Good listening skills provide a child with a greater chance at success in school because students spend more time listening than doing any other activity. Children learn to become better listeners when you model desired behavior. Let your child know you are listening. You can do this by giving your full attention when your child is talking to you, looking at your child, waiting patiently for the child to finish and then responding in a meaningful way to what the child said.

You can encourage your child’s good listening skills when you…

  • Get the child’s attention before speaking
  • Talk at eye level with your child
  • Speak slowly and clearly
  • Use a consistent routine
  • Respond to what the child is saying so they know you are listening
  • Use words helpful to the child as he or she remembers a sequence (e.g. First, next, then, finally)
  • Use other cues, such as facial expressions, pointing to objects or gestures
  • Give your child time to think after a question
  • Give praise to your child when he or she listens well
  • Spend time everyday talking with your child in a relaxed way

If the hesitations and repetitions continue or increase you can speak to your pediatrician or the school speech and language therapist. 

A typical 5-year-old might…

  • Define objects by their use (“You eat with a fork.”)
  • Know concepts such as far, near, over and under
  • Use sentences of five to six words
  • Know common opposites such as big and little and hard and soft
  • Understand the words same and different
  • Ask questions to get information

You can stimulate your 5-year-old child’s speech and language if you…

  • Listen to your child when he or she talks to you
  • Encourage your child to use language to express feelings, ideas, dreams, wishes and fears
  • Ask your child to tell you about his/her experiences at school or their day
  • Allow your child opportunities to learn songs and rhymes
  • Continue to read stories to them
  • Read signs to your child when you’re out for a walk or drive
  • Remember that your child will still understand more than he or she will be able to say
  • Ask a lot of “why,” “what,” and “how” questions

Areas of speech and language

There are many components of language. The following is a brief description of some of the aspects of language.

Semantics – word meaning

If your child has difficulty with semantics then they need to work on the following:

  • Vocabulary (nouns, verbs, prepositions, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs)
  • Categorization
  • Associations
  • Rhyming words
  • Multiple meanings
  • Antonyms/synonyms
  • Similarities/differences
  • Word relationships

Syntax – rules for ordering words in a sentence

If your child has difficulty with syntax then they need to work on the following:

  • Word, phrase, sentences (imitation, production, comprehension)
  • Comprehending and producing complete sentences
  • Increasing sentence length

Morphology – grammar

If your child has difficulty with morphology then they need to work on the following:

  • Parts of speech (nouns, verbs, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs etc.)
  • Prefixes/suffixes
  • Contractions
  • Regular and irregular plurals
  • Regular and irregular verbs
  • Verb tense and subject-verb agreement

Articulation – production of specific sounds and/or groups of sounds in isolation, words, phrases, sentences, structured speech and spontaneous speech

If your child has difficulty with articulation then they need to work on producing a particular sound and/or phonological process.

  • Your child begins making sounds when he or she is born and continues to develop those sounds throughout childhood. There are typical ages when you can expect your child to begin making each sound. You can use the following as a guide:
    • By age 3: h, w, m, n, b, p and f
    • By age 4: d, t, y, k, g, ng
    • By age 6: l, j, ch, sh, v (Errors with r, s, z and th may continue.)
    • By age 8-9: Child matches the adult standard for the production of all consonant sounds.

You can help your child speak more clearly by…

  • Being a good speech model for your child. DO NOT use baby talk.
  • Pronouncing words clearly, slowly and correctly for your child to hear and imitate.
  • Trying to look at your child when you both are talking.
  • Praising your child when sounds are correct, especially if the sounds were previously difficult for the child.

Fluency – stuttering, or an abnormality of speech rate or rhythm

If your child difficulty producing fluent speech then they may exhibit one or more of the following:

  • Prolonged sounds
  • Repetition of sounds or words
  • Secondary characteristics (eye blinking, tightened jaw or mouth, etc.)

Between the ages of 2 and 6 almost all children will begin to repeat sounds, syllables and whole words when they are speaking. This is not stuttering but rather, normal non-fluent duplications in speech. The amount of repetition will vary from child to child and from situation to situation. It may last from several weeks to several months. It may disappear and then reappear. Eventually, it will disappear altogether. 

You can help your child during this time by…

  • NOT calling attention to your child’s repetitions
  • NOT telling your child to slow down or take it easy
  • Giving your child plenty of time to talk without interruption
  • Trying not to be impatient
  • Remembering that hesitations and repetitions are perfectly natural in a child’s early speech and may continue for some time

If the hesitations and repetitions continue or increase you can speak to your pediatrician or the school speech and language therapist. 

Voice – sound quality

Voice includes the following:

  • Quality
  • Pitch
  • Loudness
  • Duration
  • Intonation
Preparing our students for success in tomorrow’s world.

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