When helping your child to develop talking skills it is helpful to remember that talking is something that we use to make things happen, for example: asking for something, asking a question, giving directions, describing things etc.

Asking your child to simply repeat your talking isn’t always helpful because that’s not what conversation and talking normally looks like.

We want to aim to teach the connection between the words we use and what your child wants to communicate

You are the best people to give your child this help as you go through the same routines and see the same things every day as part of your daily lives


  • Children need to hear the same words again and again, in different places, at different times and even from different people. This repetition enables them to really learn what the word means and how it sounds.
  • They need to learn that the word “cat” is the name for their pet black “cat”, and also the white “cat” from next door and also the “cat” in their story book and the “cat” on the TV.
  • As you go through your day show objects to your child and tell them the word (the name or label) e.g. keys, plates, spoon, sock, towel, soap, car, bag, book, shops. You can also tell them what you are doing e.g. “shopping”, “cooking” “brushing”.
  • You can do this in a little “commentary” of what you are doing so that it feels more normal and relaxed e.g. “socks on”, “going shopping”, “wash tummy”. Remember to keep your sentences simple – only a few words long where possible and using the same phrases every day will help.
  • Use books to point out words to your child. When you are reading the story stop and look at each page. Pictures books will have lots of little things you can point out and name for your child. Later on you can ask them to find things in the pictures and point them out to you.

Don’t worry about getting your child to repeat the word by saying “you say it, you say it”. Your child needs to hear you saying the word clearly – they will be ready to use the word in their own time.

Don’t worry if the word isn’t sounding clear just yet – this is very usual when children are learning to use words. With more time and practice, and clear models from adults around them, the words will become clearer.


Using words when playing pretend

These games give your child the chance to practice and experiment with talking that is linked to everyday activities and routines.  You can talk to them when you’re playing with them, using familiar words and short sentences – for example, “ooh, a cup of tea”, “make some dinner”, “car go fast”, “wash teddy”.  By using the same words and sentences over and over your child will hear the same words and will try to have a go at saying them too.

  • Pretend tea parties
  • Shopping games
  • Pretend car / bus rides
  • Pretend bathing dolly / teddy

Games for words

Feelie bags

Guessing what’s in the bag.

Gather a selection of everyday objects, e.g. ball, cup, spoon, dolly, brick, key, pencil, and put them in a bag or pillowcase. Find 5 minutes every day to sit down with your child. Encourage your child to take the objects out of the bag one at a time, telling them the names of the objects as they find them. Play with the objects and name them again. Then put 2 or 3 of the objects in front of your child and ask them to find one object at a time, for example “where’s the cup?”. If they pick the wrong item, say “That’s the …… Now where’s the…………?” Pause to give them another chance, then show them “here’s the……….”

If your child gets good at this game, change the objects in the bag. Increase the number of items at a time, e.g. put out 4 or 5 items. Make it fun by hiding the objects around the room or play shopping and ask your child to “buy” the item you want.

Kim’s game

Remembering objects shown and then hidden.

Put 4 or 5 familiar objects on a tray or the floor, show them to your child, talk about them together, cover them up and get them to name the objects.

Then, to make it a bit harder, you can remove an object and see if your child can guess what has been taken away.

Looking through books

Naming pictures and adding some words e.g. It’s a bus; a big bus, a red bus

Miss a word

When singing a song, reading a familiar story, saying a nursery rhyme or even saying a familiar sentence such as “ready, steady, go”, stop in the middle and see if your child can say the next word.

For example: “Twinkle Twinkle little ……..”

Making choices

As you go through your day, give your child a choice of two things:

  • Getting dressed, do they want red or blue socks? Dress or skirt?
  • At snack time, do they want crisps or a biscuit? Milk or juice?
  • At play time, do they want their car or train? Dolly or teddy?
  • At bath time, do they want the duck or boat? Bubbles or shapes?

Hold up the two things you are offering and say the names of the objects. Once they have made a choice, you must give your child that item – so only offer things you are willing for them to have! If your child wants both items, try giving a choice between a favourite item and a non-favourite item, e.g. a car or a sheet of paper. Make sure you say the words of the items you are offering as you give the choice.

If your child is doing well here offer a choice of 3 or 4 items. If your child is using one word at a time encourage them to say two words, e.g. “juice please” or “want car”.