How Can We Practice Speech and Language at Home Without Therapy Materials?

May is Better Speech and Hearing Month, and although the current circumstances may be keeping your child from regular therapy, you can still target their goals while isolating at home. A child’s natural environment is where their skills are best generalized and practiced in an enjoyable, functional way without the need for drill and therapy materials.

Practice single words for making simple requests

If your child can name an item or activity with their best approximation, they can also use that utterance to make a request.

  • Consider items or activities that are highly preferred such as favorite foods, drinks, toys, activities and TV/movie characters. Once your child can label these items, encourage them to say the word in order to receive the item or gain access to the activity.
  • Clarity and articulation can be emphasized by encouraging the child to produce a best approximation of the word.
  • Immediately give them the item or access to the activity once the word is produced to naturally reinforce their request.
  • Practice requesting words such as on, up, out, off, open, come and go.

Practice combining words with pivot phrases

Pivot phrases stay constant, so the child only has to retrieve one novel word. Here are some examples of pivot words and phrases: my____, open_____ , I want to_____, let me_____, take off_____. Once you can anticipate what the child would like to say, help them use a pivot phrase:

  • While cleaning up: Put away_______.
  • Hide items around the house and ask your child, “What did you find?” I found____.
  • Practice pivot phrases using books with repetition, such as Brown Bear, Brown Bear (I see a____).

Language of games

Use the opportunity to script commonly used language while having fun playing games. Here are some suggested phrases:

  • Practice commonly used phrases: my turn and your turn.
  • Add the name of the person with whom they’re speaking: your turn, mommy or daddy, go.
  • Ask questions: “What do you need?” I need______.
  • Use negation: I don’t need that one.
  • Ask and answer questions: “Whose turn is it?” My turn, your turn, her turn.

Everyday home experiences provide great opportunities for practice.

Brought to you by Kaufman Children’s Center. Visit for more information on their speech, language, sensory motor and social connections services.


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