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SLP Corner: Speech Savvy – Get Your Hands Dirty

By: Kelly Ring-Whiklo, M.Sc., S-LP ( C )

Reprinted with the express permission of the author as it originally appeared on her blog

We had beautiful weather over the Easter weekend. It inspired me to get outside and start preparing my garden for planting. Although it’s a bit early to actually put anything in the ground yet (at least here), I pulled some (ok, a lot) of weeds, and did a general clean up. Some of my perennials are even starting to come up! Of course, the boys wanted to help. What kid doesn’t like to dig in the dirt? So the inspiration for this week’s post was born.
Spend some time with your child, working in the garden. The garden is rich with vocabulary (e.g. flowers, bugs, tools, colors, sizes, heights), and the necessity of being close to the ground is the perfect opportunity to get on your child’s level and face to face.
No garden? No excuses! Plant a pot for your deck, patio or balcony. Grow an indoor herb garden on your window sill.
Goal: ALL
No matter what speech or language goal you have for your child, using these two Hanen strategies will help get the most out of any interaction.

  • Get on your child’s physical level. Try to match the height of your head to your child’s. Depending on your size, and your child’s, this might mean crouching while your child stands, or laying on your stomachs (yes, in the mud). Find a comfortable position. You might be there awhile.
  • Get face to face. Position yourself so that you and your child are facing each other. You’ll be able to see what your child is looking at, so you can talk about what they are interested in. You’ll be able to hear them better, and they’ll be able to hear you better too.

Goal: Fluency
If your child’s goal is smoother speech, try practicing their fluency strategies while working in the garden. They can name each thing they see using their slow, easy speech. Practice slow, easy talking in sentences. Since you are at their level and face to face, your child can practice keeping eye contact, which helps children speak more smoothly. Practicing in a different place is helpful for transferring smooth speech to other locations and situations. Doing something like light weeding or planting can be relaxing , setting the stage for the calm atmosphere that encourages smoother speech.
Goal: Speech Sounds or Vocabulary Enrichment
You and your child can talk about all the things in the garden that you see (objects), taste, touch and smell (describing words) and what your child is doing (actions e.g. dig, bury, pull). Your child can listen to you, say the words themselves, put the words into sentences, or make up stories. If they are targeting a specific sound, emphasize those words that have your child’s target sound in them.
In my last four posts I have written about some outdoor, spring activities that are good for working on a variety of speech and language goals. Please read my previous posts, if you haven’t already, for ideas about how throwing rocks, going for a walk and splashing in the puddles can help develop your child’s speech and language skills.
Is there a goal you wish I had talked about in the last few posts? What is it?


Featured Guest Blogger: Kelly Ring-Whiklo, M.Sc., S-LP©
I am a speech-language pathologist living near Winnipeg, Manitoba. Since graduating with my Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology in 1999, I have worked in public schools in Oregon and Manitoba. My private practice, Prairie Speech & Language, serves children birth to 18 years of age.

PediaStaff hires pediatric and school-based professionals nationwide for contract assignments of 2 to 12 months. We also help clinics, hospitals, schools, and home health agencies to find and hire these professionals directly. We work with Speech-Language Pathologists, Occupational and Physical Therapists, School Psychologists, and others in pediatric therapy and education.


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