Top tips for supporting your child’s speech and language development

Learning how to communicate is quite complicated and children need lots of input from adults to help them kickstart the process of effective communication.  Learning to speak requires real human interaction, it needs face to face input and it all starts the day you bring your bundle of joy home.

Our top tips for supporting your child speech and language development is as follows:

  1. Always have conversations with your child, explaining to them what you are doing. This method is called self-talking, and it is crucial from as young as birth.
  2. Reading stories and rhymes daily is another way to promote language development in young children (and babies).
  3. Sing to you baby and with your young child. Singing is known to encourage language development
  4. Play turn taking games, peek-a-boo games and word games as often as possible and engage verbally with your child during these games.
  5. When your child starts babbling make sure that you respond enthusiastically to their babies’ noises.
  6. During playtime talk to your child about what they are doing for example: “look you are turning the page, or wow you are building a tower with your Lego”. This is what is referred to as parallel talk.
  7. Repetition is important because the more a child hears word phrase and sounds the more likely they are to say it themselves.
  8. Try not to pressurize your child when they say a phrase or sentence incorrectly, rather repeat what they said using the correct words.
  9. Remember that learning the abc’s and numbers is wonderful, and that they are important to learn but children can’t use them to communicate. Parent and educators alike, must always focus on teaching children to communicate so that they can easily let us know their needs and needs.
  10. Use gestures with speech, music, and rhymes because children will often learn them first. Gestures such as waving or clapping hands can develop from as young as age 3 months.  We must never forget that gestures are a form of nonverbal communication.
  11. Always speak slowly and wait for the child to respond. Don’t be too quick to fire away a variety of questions leaving the child feeling unsure about which questions to answer first.


Preschools, creches and therapists all tend to use milestone charts to get a sense of what normal language development should look like.  It is by far the most accurate way of measuring a child speech development.

Parents can easily download a milestone chart off the Internet.  This will help the parent choose the right strategies to support a child with speech and language development – one that is appropriate to the child’s age.

Should the parent or educator notice any delays in speech and language development we highly recommend you seek professional help from a registered speech and language practitioner.  The earlier a speech delay is identified and intervention strategies put in place the more likely the child is to catch up.

Ilse Kilian-Ross

Ilse Kilian-Ross is the owner of Amazing K, a registered ECD and Partial Care Facility in Johannesburg. Amazing K is a private adhd school, autism school and therapy centre for children from age 2 - 6 years where learners receive the best of both the schooling and therapy world. The autism school offers Individualized Education Programs, Speech- and Augmentive Alternative Communication (AAC) therapy as well as a full and adapted Academic Curriculum.