The 5 Lists of Words to Teach
1. Syllable Shape Words
2. "Power Words" (manding)
3. Familiar Nouns
5. High-Frequency Words
List 1: Syllable Shape Words
These are words that "train" the child's mouth to move in a variety of ways, setting the child a firm foundation of sounds and motor plans for future speech. They vary in complexity and this is probably the word list your SLP targets most often.
C means a consonant, V means vowel
CVCV words: mama, dada, papa
CVC words: hat, mop, dad
VCV words: oboe, okay
CV1CV2 words: mommy, puppy
CV words: hi, no, bye, me
VC words: up, out, in, on
C1V1C2V2 words: happy, tummy, pony
*Remember: Some kids, those that are very concrete learners, might assume that if you start teaching CVCV words first, may repeat everything. So mama is fine, but then you get into "up up" or "cat cat". So start with non-duplicating syllables.
Some sounds are "gross motor speech" that use the whole mouth, like the muh, buh, puh sounds.
Some sounds are "fine motor speech" like the Rrr sound, or the Th sound.
Teach gross motor first, unless your child is starting with some "fine motor" sounds already in their repertoire.
Pictures are very useful because they have concrete meaning without you having to hunt for objects all the time, but DON'T USE JUST PICTURES!!! That will get very boring!! Mix it up and make it fun!
Also, don't overemphasize the final consonant, or the child will do the same. So say "boa-t" instead of "Boa-TUH"
Perfect the first CV in a word before adding the ending sound. If a child can say "boo-", people are much more likely to guess "boot" than if the child can only say "b-"
Every SLP has their own set of visual cues, and kids can get confused if their school and private SLPs and parents all use different signals. So get everybody on the same page!
Use approximations for difficult sounds until the child can vocalize the correct sounds. Work up from what the child CAN say. This is called "Backwards chaining". The backs of the K-SLP cards give examples, but are JUST suggestions!
If your child's name is very difficult, give them a nickname! The "thew" in Matthew is a very complex sound, so just let him call himself Matt until he is a better talker.
If your child has a very long name (3 syllables or more), drop the hardest syllable
List 2: "Power Words" or Functional Single-Word Requests or "Manding"
These are words that are functional and can manipulate the environment. They give your child control! This is VERY empowering to a child!
Open Up Here There Come
Down On Mama Off This
Yes Dada In No Watch
That Go Look Don't Out
REMEMBER: This is where vowel accuracy is SO important! If "out" sounds like "at", no one will understand, and your child will become frustrated that his/ her attempts at manipulating the environment go unnoticed.
ALWAYS model correct speech! A conversation with your child may look sound like this:
Child: *points to crayons*
Parent: Do you want to draw?
Parent: Oh, I see, you want to ____
Parent: Yes! You want to DRAW! *gives crayons and paper*
In this scenario, the child didn't get what he/ she wanted until they vocalized, and the parent rewarded verbal attempts immediately while still correctly modeling proper speech.
List 3: Familiar Nouns
In this list, teach nouns that are familiar to your child. Apple, bubbles, shoes, water, bike, etc.
Pair these nouns with SPECIFIC verbs. Using "want" all the time is too general, and you want a wide vocabulary. So the phrases become:
- "Blow bubbles"
- "Drink water"
- "Put on shoes"
- "Eat apple"
- "Ride bike"
ASL Tip: If a child does not have a specific sign for something, they will often "scroll" through general signs (want, please, more, all done) often taught early, hoping to have their need met.
Scenario: A child wants a cookie.
Child: *signs want*
Parent: You want something?
Child: *nods and repeats sign*
Parent: Do you want a drink? Bath? Chalk? Potty?
Child: *shakes head, signs want again*
Parent: Do you want to play outside?
Child: *shakes head, increasingly frustrated. Signs want please*
Parent: You are saying want please, but I don't know what you want.
Now compare that against the same scenario where the child wants a cookie, but was taught the sign.
Child: *signs cookie*
Parent: Oh, you want a cookie! Say "cookie"
Parent: Good job! Here is your cookie *gives cookie*
You want your child to be rewarded for speaking! Make it easier to get their needs met by speaking than by any other method, and the child will do their best to speak.
Very often when a child learns a sign then loses it later, it is because it didn't have concrete meaning, and didn't consistently get the child what they wanted.
List 4: Favorites
This is my favorite to teach, because Chelsea gets SO excited about being able to request her favorites, or tell people about what she likes.
Make lists of your child's favorite items/ activities, and teach those words. Likely, your child will be highly motivated to learn these words, because it gets them a highly-preferred item. Simplify the words if you need to, but make sure your child can say them!
Your child's name is a top priority here!
Categories of favorites may include:
When your child uses these words, give them that thing! You are teaching them to communicate, and so they need high levels of positive reinforcement!!! If you require them to talk without a reward, there is no reinforcement, and they will stop trying to talk, since it doesn't get them what they want.
List 5: High Frequency Words
These are words used very often that your child will be expected to use correctly. Words include:
Please Thank you See Get
Again Awesome Bye More
Have Want Hi Help
If your child generalizes "please", they will add it onto everything, and that usually leads to slurring words together. So "jump please" becomes "umpees"
Other high-frequency words are descriptive words. Colors, numbers, sizes, shapes, etc.
There are also linking words (and, as, if, or, but) for correct grammer. Teach these if your child is ready for them, otherwise, omit them completely and focus on functional speech.