The Reluctant Communicator

Some children seem reluctant to talk and have not learned that talking can be used for a variety of reasons: to express wants and needs, to comment on things, to find out information, to greet people, to express opinions, to joke, etc. As a parent or caregiver there is lots that you can do to encourage speech. Here are a few tips:

Follow the child's lead. You may notice that the child is more talkative during certain tasks or activities. Provide frequent opportunities for the child to engage in these activities.

•Provide extra time for the child to produce a response.

•Give the child opportunities to fill in the rest of your sentences.

•Leave ideas or stories partially completed. This encourages children to make comments or ask questions. (e.g. "I saw a great show on TV last night.", "A special visitor is coming to our class today.", "I went shopping last night and bought many things.")

•Encourage guessing. It takes the wrong/right edge off responses. (e.g. Guess who our visitor is, guess where we are going, guess what the boy bought, guess what happens on the next page, etc.)

•Create situations where the importance of talking is more obvious (e.g. Borrow something, show and tell, talk on the phone, hold book upside down, change the routine, forget the rules, etc.)

•Model good speech while the child is involved in an activity.

•Direct the child to centres where there are other children involved in an activity.

•Find out as much as possible about their environment, so you are a more informed conversation partner and can keep the conversation going.

•Limit the number of questions asked and focus on making statements and providing information.

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