Archive for Thursday, March 6, 2014

Parents as Teachers: Monitoring speech development in toddlers

March 6, 2014

Learning to talk is a huge milestone for every child and an exciting time for parents and guardians. It can also be a source of frustration for children and parents when a child does not progress with language and speech. Parents as Teachers’ parent educators perform developmental screenings on each child to identify potential delays.

It is important to know that speech and language are not the same thing. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association states, “Language is the socially accepted way of communicating. It includes the way words are put together, what words to use and what words mean.” Speech is the verbal means of communicating and includes articulation (how speech sounds are made), voice (the means to produce a sound) and fluency (rhythm of speech that can include stuttering).

Parents as Teachers’ parent educators provide monthly personal visits with families. Here are some of the questions parent educators are often asked during their visits.

• What can I do to help my child with language development?

From birth, talk face-to-face to your child so he/she can learn that words have meaning and see your lips form the words spoken. Reading to your child and singing songs increases your child’s vocabulary and memory, as well as providing a good environment for learning later on.

• How can my child communicate before he can speak?

Initially children understand (receptive language) more words than they are able to say (expressive language). Teaching sign language at a young age can ease a child’s frustration when trying to communicate. Start with simple signs such as more, help, or all done. You can check out a book on baby signs from the library or look online for ideas.

• How many words should my child be saying by the age of 2?

A child should be able to put two words together, i.e. “Mommy work” or “Daddy home.” In order to do this, they need a vocabulary of about 40 words. You should be concerned if your child is not making two word combinations.

• My child has started to stutter. Should I be concerned?

Between the ages of 2 and 3, many children hesitate or repeat words when they speak. About 80% of children outgrow this. You should be concerned if your child stutters for 6 months or more, seems to exert physical effort to speak, or seems to be afraid to talk.

• What can I do if my child is not talking?

Talk to your parent educator if you are enrolled in Parents as Teachers. Parent educators use an OAE machine to screen each child’s hearing to make sure there are no hearing problems that might interfere with language development. If any problems are discovered, the family will be referred to a physician.

Parent educators provide participants with annual developmental screenings, as well as health, vision, and hearing screenings. Parents as Teachers is a free program open to all families in the Bonner Springs/Edwardsville school district who are expecting a baby or who have a child birth to age 3. Check out our Facebook page at Bonner Springs/Edwardsville Parents as Teachers or contact me at


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