Delayed speech in babies and toddlers can be worrying for parents, but life can be easier if you start treatment at a younger age. When you sign your little one up for speech therapy for kids with a trained speech-language pathologist, one of the first pieces of advice you’ll get is to read to the child.
Does Reading Improve Speech?
Reading to your young child can help improve speech for a variety of reasons. Books are possibly the most effective tools to kickstart your child’s academic proficiency and promote social interaction and communication.
Books and stories help to engage and entertain your little one while encouraging their attempts at picking up speech and language skills. Here is some more information on how reading can help improve speech in young children with a possible delay or even for those parents who just want their child to excel in communication.
1. Reading Exposes Children to Sounds and Correct Pronunciation
By the time kids start school, they typically have a vocabulary of 5,000 words or more. However, for them to pick up the words, they need exposure to letters, sounds, and to understand their meaning.
The best way to learn is repetition. Reading the same book repeatedly encourages kids to pick up the sounds and syllables in each word and attempt to repeat them.
The most significant advantage of reading is that books help familiarize kids with terms that you might not use in everyday communication. More importantly, reading showcases the words in different contexts and sentences. That makes it easier for the child to understand their meaning and correct pronunciation.
Related Post: 12 Tips to Help Your Preschooler Learn Letters and Sounds
2. You’ll Inspire Interest with Beautiful Illustrations and Bright Colors.
Children’s books have lots of illustrations and images colored in bright hues. Images are potent mediums that spur the child’s imagination.
The interiors of your home may be beautiful, but books open up entire worlds of new possibilities. Kids look at animals, birds, forests, oceans, universes, and various other scenarios where rabbits go to school and cats enjoy a bowl of cereal.
Your child is introduced to concepts from outer space, dragons, along with fairy tale homes like a castle or a treehouse hidden in the forest. They’ll be more inclined to play make believe, use their imagination, and think more creatively by having books read to them.
3. Reading Helps Learning by Mimicking
Parents are their child’s first teachers. Everything you do and say inspires and fascinates your child and makes them want to mimic you.
When you cook, clean, do the laundry, or any other activity, it will get imitated and integrated in play sessions with toys. That’s your child’s way of making sense out of the world and everything happening around them.
This really shows how reading can improve speech for your child. You can expect that your child will mimic the way your lips and mouth move with the words when reading.
4. You’ll Teach Gesturing, Body Language, and Expression.
Expert speech therapists typically recommend that you hold the book in front of you with the child seated next to you or on your knees. You’ll create a warm, supportive atmosphere while exposing the child to not just words but also voice inflections, tones, and expressions.
Speaking and interaction are a lot about facial and muscle movements rather than just about sound. Effective communication is also closely connected to body language and gestures.
As your child watches you read and senses the entire concept of speech, they’ll have a better grasp of how to express their thoughts and ideas.
5. Books Connect Words and Terms with Objects and Ideas
Reading helps kids understand the meaning and correct usage of a word in a sentence. You’ll point to words and corresponding images to explain what it means.
When you say dog and point to a picture, the child learns that this thing is a “dog.” Similarly, you can relate to colors like red, blue, green, yellow, or any other.
Introducing the concept of numbers also works well when you count the number of balls the dog is playing with.
Reading also explains how actions work. So, if the fox is eating a green apple, you’ll teach four concepts at one go, such as “fox,” “green,” “apple,” and “eating.” Don’t be surprised if a green apple becomes the next favorite food on the menu!
Related Post: 31 Things You Can Teach Your 3 Year Old
6. Reading Teaches Proper Grammar and Sentence Structure
Reading books and stories helps your child practice proper grammar and the correct sequence of the words in a sentence. All parents are guilty of speaking the baby babble or forming simple sentences to communicate with their kids like, “Dada get milk” or “Mama go car.”
Toddlers are delighted when you speak a word like them and you do kind of enjoy the cute words your baby says or probably don’t even notice it when you talk like them.
The problem is that you invariably indicate that it’s the right way to say the word. Books make sure you stay with adult speech and teach your child the correct terms.
7. You’ll Enforce Learning Language Skills with Reading Time.
Let’s face it, your toddler would prefer to play with their toys and run about instead of sitting in one place and working on their speech and language skills.
When you enforce reading at, say, bedtime, your little one has to lay in bed and pay attention to the book.
As a parent, you know how hard it is to get your squirming two-year-old to sit through the five-minute reading session. Once the child starts learning the book and can repeat it back from memory, getting them to sit still will be easier.
Although you may end up reading the same book at least 83 times in a row, it’s a start in the right direction.
Related Post: Tips to Teach Your Toddler to Talk
What Does Reading Do for Your Child?
Reading improves your child’s fluency in the language by giving them the chance to practice words and pronunciations. They’ll develop a better understanding of what words mean and the information they relay.
Reading aloud encourages children to think about what they’re reading and saying. You can help the process along by discussing the events in the book.
Ask questions about the characters and the child’s impression and perception about them. In this way, you’ll stimulate them to think.
Reading books has so many benefits and is the best way to help your child build speech and language skills. Tapping into this invaluable resource is the best thing you can do.
Better Speech has helped thousands of children and families. We’re committed to providing affordable and effective online speech therapy for kids and adults. Our clients are matched with the best therapist for their needs and get therapy at the comfort of their home, when it’s convenient for them.