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What role does a parent play in child speech and language development?

Posted on
November 29, 2022
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Understanding what role a parent plays in your child's speech and language development can positively contribute to their early years. Evidence shows that the children who are the most successful in learning new things are those who have extra help from their parents at home. This includes both pre-school and school-age children. 


The importance and role you play as a parent

  • You know your child better than anyone else.
  • You are able to give plenty of individual attention.
  • You often spend more time with your child more than anyone else, particularly before the child starts school.
  • Parents are able to provide lots of learning at different times of the day, a little at a time. This is one of the most effective ways for children to learn information.
  • Parents can encourage self-esteem, confidence and motivation in their child through frequent praise.
  • Parents can incorporate speech and language targets into everyday activities. Just like learning to play the guitar, the more you practice outside of those lessons, the more it will help build up your skills. 
  • Speech therapy doesn’t require a desk and a chair. Parents can create opportunities for language in everyday activities. For example, going to the park, bath-time, going on a car journey, a trip to the store. 
  • Parents are able to put the new knowledge and skills into practice, so your child can practice communicating with those that matter most in their lives. 
  • Parents can work with their child away from a stressful medical and clinical office, you can practice the activities in the comfort and familiarity of your home. 

speech and language activities
Learning how to incorporate play with speech development


What does the research say about the parent's role?

What does it mean to do speech therapy with my child
  1. Children have made more progress when parents have been involved.
  2. Parents are just as effective at helping their child as a Speech and Language Professional. 
  3. Parents have a positive effect on their child’s communication development. 


What makes a successful parent and speech and language professional (SLP) collaboration:

  • Clarity: An SLP will need to carry out an assessment with your child in order to identify your child’s strengths and needs. We would also be able to identify the extent of your child’s needs. For example, identify if your child is demonstrating skills within normal limits for their age and presenting with typical errors or is this a difficulty that presents as mild, moderate or severe. Your child’s performance on the assessment will be compared to developmental norms in order to identify a baseline of your child’s needs. 
  • Setting targets: Parent and SLP identify a number of targets to work on based on the assessment findings. Parents are given information about the targets and their importance and relevance to their child. When parents are given information about the overall language goal, it will help when planning next steps and what to expect. 
  • Strategies: Parents are taught strategies to support the child achieving the targets. We can discuss how to incorporate them into everyday activities. The SLP will be able to share with you a bank of ideas in order to support your child achieve their targets. 
  • Review: it is important for the collaboration to have an open and transparent discussion on how the parent and child are getting on with the targets and strategies. It is an opportunity to talk about what is working and what is not working. It is positive meeting where we can discuss why things haven’t worked in order for both parties can problem solve, the review is essential to ensure that the targets are clear and achievable. If the child has been successful with the targets, the review allows for the parent and SLP to discuss next steps to build up the child’s skills. 

When parents are engaged in their child's journey with the speech and language professional, you see increased motivation in progress by the parent to facilitate the child's communication goals. If you want to know more about your child's speech and language development, feel free to take our communication questionnaire and our speech professionals can offer your family tailored feedback.

Review communication questionnaire here.

Debbie Cohen
Speech and Language Therapist