This post is made possible with support from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” program. All opinions are my own.
There are days that I forget my sassy smart-mouthed tween son didn’t talk. Up until the age of two, he only said a handful of words like mom, dad, and dog. When he started really talking at three, he had trouble with his speech.
Being his mom I could understand him, but when he started preschool the teacher quickly asked if I would like him to see the speech therapist. For the next four years, she helped him work out his letters and sounds. Last week I was brought right back to that moment during the twins conferences.
His teacher asked if he could meet with a speech therapist. I said yes right away and told her about his older brother. I was actually hoping they were going to send him to speech and I’d already been working on it at home. It was something I noted on the preschool application as well because from experience I know that speaking very clearly is a 5 Year Milestone.
He will turn 5 in January and still struggles with certain letters, especially r. That can make it difficult for people to understand him. When people don’t understand him it frustrates him and it breaks my heart that it frustrates him.
After going through this with my other son, I have high hopes that speech therapy will help him. In addition to speech therapy at school, I will continue the things I do at home. Here are some of the things that have helped my kids improve their speech if you are concerned about development for your child.
Ways to Help Preschoolers with Speech
Mirror, Mirror On The Wall
Standing in front of a mirror saying words helps children see how their mouth moves. I often stand next to them saying the same word so they can see how my mouth forms the sounds.
Part of my oldest son’s struggle with speech was his tongue. It was almost like he didn’t know what to do with it. That’s one reason talking to the mirror was a big help for him, and so were tongue exercises to help with speech.
Moving his tongue around and doing different things with it helped him use that muscle in new ways. Pressing it against the roof of his mouth and moving it in a circle like he was licking his lips were two I had him do quite a bit.
For my sons, certain letters affect their speech. Using words that contain those letters often helps them work on that sound. Oliver has r as well as v which he also struggles with, so we have him say his name a lot as well as his sister’s.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Learn the Signs. Act Early. resources are extremely helpful to parents with children from birth to 5 years of age. With checklists to help you keep up with which milestones your child should be reaching in how he or she plays, learns, speaks, acts and moves.
In addition to his speech, we still have a few other milestones to reach as the twins turn 5. Printing numbers is a big one, as well as learning their address. I use the CDC’s Milestone Tracker App to help me keep track of their developmental progress. I can check things off as they accomplish them, find activities to support each stage of development, and more.