1. Use natural, positive reinforcement:
        May be verbal - "good" "I like that" "wow!"...
        May be physical - smile, hug, pat, clap...
        May be tangible - giving requested object, drink, food, performing the requested

  2. Use appropriate body language and keep your face as close to your child's level as possible to encourage good eye contact and visual attention. Share in you child's play so you can learn how he learns!

  3. Imitate your child's words and attempts at speaking.

  4. Expand your child's speech be repeating what your child says in a grammatically, complete sentence.
        Child:    "ball"                   Parent:    "That's a ball."
                      "girl dog"                             "The girl has a dog."
                      "dog eat food"                   "The dog is eating his food."

  5. Extend your child's speech by adding more information when you repeat what she/he says.
    Child:    "ball"           Parent:  "The ball is rolling."
                 "girl dog"                    "She has a pretty dog."
                "dog eat food"           "The dog finished his food, he 
                                                           wants more."

  6. Prompt your child to respond by direct request, modeling of a desired response or using fill-in-the-blanks, "that's a __________".

  7. Use vocabulary that is familiar and relevant to your child. Talk about what is happening, what you are doing or what your child is doing. 

  8. Encourage conversational turn-taking by pausing after you say something (your conversational turn). Using prolonged pauses (even up to 9 seconds) helps your child learn about verbal turn-taking even when a child does not have understandable speech.

  9. Speak distinctly with adequate loudness taking care to pronounce all sentence parts and all word endings clearly. It is ot necessary to over-exaggerate or talk loudly, you should sound as natural as possible.

  10. Talk in sentences that are the appropriate length for your child's language level - a few words longer than what she/he is using.


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Adapted from Kay Garrard's "A Workshop Manual for Assessing the Language Production Skills of Young Children" which was adapted from Russo, J. B., & Owens, R. E. The development of an objective observation tool for parent-child interaction. JSHD, 1982, 47, 165-173

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