Monday, August 20, 2012

Speech & the young child

I haven't talked much about my new endeavor but I thought I'd post something that I've noticed with my new little gal. Her name is Sierra and she just turned 3. She is so very smart, picks things up super quick and you can tell her mom/dad have worked with her a lot.

I don't know much regarding if they talk to her a lot or if everyone just "translates" what she wants and is trying to say but her speech is very difficult to understand. She's very soft spoken and at times her speech can be clear but the majority of the time it's very garbled or mumbled and I'm really struggling to understand her. I don't want her to become self-conscious or more shy than she already is and I don't want her to quit trying to explain to me what she's talking about - so I reached out to Carrie Manchester of Carrie's Speech Corner for some suggestions. I thought some of you might be interested in her suggestions. 


Carrie - I wanted to ask you if you have any suggestions on "games" or activities that I can do with my 3 year old. Her speech is very garbled and unclear and she mumbles a lot. Her sisters speech is very clear - but Sierra needs some encouragement to enunciate when speaking. I don't want it to be a pressure for her - just something to encourage her and I'd just like to understand most of what she's saying. Thoughts?

We are going to be starting preschool activities next week and we read stories throughout the day. I have a tendency to enunciate with kids as I speak - so I'm already doing that.

Answer: (I'm going to break it into bullets)
  • That's great that you enunciate b/c that would be my first suggestion.
  • Model a slower rate of speech as well. It's also helpful to draw attention to your mouth while speaking. I can email you a handout on "Touch Cues" to show children how sounds are made. 
  • You could also try syllable or word tapping/clapping to make her more mindful of segments and decrease the "garbled" quality. 
  • It's a controversial topic, but you could try oral motor exercises with her as well to increase strength of mouth muscles. I did a post a week or two ago on an apple tree oral motor activity
  • You could use bubbles, whistles, thin straws for her drinks, imitating tongue movements in a mirror, chewy foods that provide resistance (e.g., starburst candies, licorice ropes), and even sour foods (sour patch kids, candy sprays). 
As far as speech/language related activities, pretty much anything can be turned into a speech/language activity! Just keep playing with her, doing arts and crafts, and even doing some of the activities you see on speech and education blogs. When you do, model slow, clear speech and use the touch cues. Try to stay on her eye level and encourage her to imitate. Hope that helps!

Here are a few sites mentioned that work with speech ideas (I haven't looked into everything thoroughly - but you might look them up for ideas):
I'll try to come back and let you know how our little adventure goes. 

Tina 'the book lady'


  1. love your tips here, its so important to work with young kids and their speach at an early age!

  2. Those are great tips! We had an issue with our son when he was younger but what helped was his babysitter was hard of hearing... within a week, he was speaking clearer than I had ever heard him speak!