If you have youngsters in your pre-school classroom who are speech delayed, there are many easy ways you can help them outside of speech therapy. Many of the techniques you can use for children with speech delays will also be helpful for other students in your classroom as well.
Develop Their Mouth Muscles
Often times, children who experience a speech delay do not have the muscular strength in their mouths that they need in order to form all of the sounds. You can help them develop these muscles.
- Move The Cotton Ball: In your sensory area, you can set up a cotton ball race. You can allow students to try to "race" the cotton balls across the table using the wind they produce with straws. You can use this exercise to further a discussion about wind and weather.
- Boat Race: You can fill up your sensory table with water, and place little boats inside of it. Then, you can give students straws and allow them to "create" the wind to blow the boats around. You can even turn it into a little race!
- Straw Art: You can set up a straw center for art one day. Put a little paint on each child's piece of paper, and then let them blow the paint around the paper to create their own unique piece of artwork.
Just be sure that you give each child their own straw; you don't want to pass germs around! All of these activities will help the students in your class with speech delays strength and develop their mouth muscles.
Help Them Communicate
Many young students, not just those with speech delays, need help communicating their needs from time to time. By using these strategies in your classroom, you will be able to provide your speech delay students with the help they need without singling them out.
- Use Sign Language: Teaching sign language is a great way to expose your young students to a second language while also helping everyone communicate their needs. Most children can quickly pick up on basic signs if you use them all the time in your classroom. Teach your students the signs for bathroom, water, please and thank-you. You can also expand beyond these basic signs.
- Practice Vocabulary: Children's vocabulary grows each and every day. Help your students out by having a little vocabulary time each day. You can show them flashcards of different items and have them all practice saying the name of the items. Or you can put items inside of basket or bag, and have one student draw out the item and everyone else practice identifying the items. This vocabulary-building time will be particularly beneficial to students with speech delays in your classroom.
- Model Proper Speech: Be sure to take the time throughout the day to get down on your students' level and talk with them. Even if a student is not very verbal, talk with them and identify everything they interact with. Even little things like that can help your students with speech delays expand their vocabulary.
You don't have to wait for the speech pathologist to come work with your students who have speech delays. By incorporating the strategies and lesson ideas listed above, you can help them develop their language skills every day, while further the educational experience for all of your students. Or course, speech pathology at a center like Eastern Carolina Ear Nose & Throat-Head is an excellent idea as well.