ReadingRockets.org published an article by the Reach Out and Read Program about what parents can do to foster good reading habits in children with speech and language needs. Although children with speech and language needs may have difficulty communicating, whether with words or gestures, reading out loud to children and engaging them in the story can help strengthen communication skills. Reach Out and Read listed tips parents can use to help their children love books, regardless of their communication abilities, which are covered below.
Discuss the story with your child
Asking your child questions while reading a story promotes engagement, as well as dialogue. Ask your child to predict what he or she thinks will happen next or how he or she thinks the main character feels. This encourages your child to not only use his or her communication skills in a non-threatening environment, but to also think about abstract ideas.
Make reading fun with word games
Playing games is an easy way to help your child associate reading with fun, and is also a direct way to work on communication skills. You can do this by starting a rhyming chain. Start out with lower-level words, like “cat,” and see how long you can keep the chain going. If you are reading a story with animals in it, ask your child to imitate the sound those animals make. This will help him or her focus on sounds and how they are formed.
Read with your child every day
Repetition and consistency are important when working with children with speech and language needs. Read to your child every day and incorporate games so he or she associates reading with fun and quality time.
It is also important to choose books that are appropriate for your child’s language level. Here are some books Reach Out and Read suggests for preschooler or school-age children:
To read more tips from the Reach out and Read Program, click here.