The COVID-19 pandemic has become a significant threat to children’s development specifically speech and language development. The life of children has completely turned upside down due to this pandemic. These social distancing policies along with other factors like the increased screen timings, home confinements, altered schedules including meal times and sleep patterns, screen exposure, parental stress, limited interaction with people, etc. have impacted the language development in children.
Delay in Speech Development
Many researchers have noted delays in the development of speech and language and children have also found it difficult to share and be in groups. This is because children got used to staying indoors with their parents. Let us now check out a few strategies and skills that will help caregivers and parents optimize the home environment for speech and language development.
· Communication and language skills that one needs to target at home
· Non-verbal and verbal imitations
· Imperative and declarative pointing
· Object use and object permanence
· Joint play and joint attention
· Cause and effect relationships
· Eye contact and eye gaze
· Simple gestures for communication
· Social and reciprocal smile
Strategies that will Help in Enhancing the Skills Mentioned Above:
· Parallel talk: try to give a running commentary like in cricket to whatever activity your child is doing. For example, if the child is playing with a ‘car’, you can sit and involve yourself and try to talk about what he is doing with the car.
· Use a lot of inflections in your voice so that children pay attention to what you are saying.
· Follow your child’s lead
· Acoustic highlighting
· Visuals: Show objects and pictures while talking to children
· Give and take activities
· Use gestures like pointing waving and hi-fi when appropriate to the scenario
· Provide proper attention whenever your try to communicate with yourself.
· Expansion: expand your child’s vocalizations. For example, if a child says “wa-was” for “water” you should expand the babbling by saying “oh! Do you need wa-was- water, here you go and let us drink water from the glass!”
· Object naming: name the object that attracts the interest of the child then.
· Be a good role model of speech. Speak clearly and use simple and grammatically correct sentences. Do not end up doing a baby talk.
If you follow the strategies mentioned above, it will help in developing the speech of your child. Pay attention to his/her needs and he will become much more confident and will also speak clearly.