Getting Siblings Involved in Speech Practice

Why involve siblings in your child’s speech and language practice?

For a child to master new speech and language skills, they should practice several times a week, outside of their speech therapy sessions.  This can be a challenging task for parents who are juggling busy schedules.  With fun, age-appropriate games and activities, your child’s siblings can learn to become helpers to make speech-language practice more enjoyable and enhance carryover of skills.

By setting clear expectations and limits, the older sibling can also benefit from this experience.  If everyone has an opportunity to feel special and appreciated, it will create a positive experience for all and ultimately strengthen the sibling relationship. To keep the experience fun for both children:

1- Let the sibling helper know you need their help because their little brother/sister can learn so many things from them.

2- Make sure that the skills being practiced are easy enough for the child with speech and language needs, so that no one gets frustrated.

3- Everyone should receive praise for their hard work after the activity.

What can siblings do?  They can be a good speech and language model.  They can be a great motivator-often children will respond better to a sibling, rather than a parent, when practicing at home.  They can help younger siblings learn how to take turns. Ask your child’s speech therapist for specific activities that address your child’s therapy goals.  As you play together, be sure to create an atmosphere of support and encouragement among siblings and give your children specific examples of how they can give each other positive feedback.

Here are a few activities that can involve siblings in speech and language practice:

–Board Games. Practice turn-taking while working on target speech sounds or language structures.

–I Spy.  Depending on the skill that needs to be practiced, the older sibling can describe items by size, color, shape, function or category; if working on speech sounds, they can choose items that contain the sound.

–Read books together and take turns labeling pictures, answering questions or retelling the story, depending on each child’s skill level

–Sing songs together and use hand gestures or motions to go along with the words.

–Simon Says can be used to practice following directions.

–Do an art or craft project.  Practice sequencing the steps of the activity, or receive another piece to make the craft each time you practice a sound.

–Scavenger hunt.  Have siblings take turns giving each other clues to where items are hidden, or what item to find.

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