This may be a common scenario - you have one child with communication/language difficulties, and another child (or children) who won’t stop talking. One of your children is receiving speech-language therapy, and you want to do everything you can to support them - but spending 1 on 1 time with them can be hard when you have other children who are also vying for your attention. So how can you include the whole family in speech therapy activities?
Fear not - there are many ways to include everyone! Depending on the ages/abilities of your children, they may not even realize that they are working on “speech therapy” activities. As someone who had a sister receive various interventions throughout our childhood, and parents who were trying to support her outside of therapy sessions, it was not until I was older that I realized what was happening. I participated in my sister’s therapy sessions and loved the “fun activities” we got to do. While she worked on reading and writing worksheets, my mom would give me my own to complete.
While spending time with the whole family, you can work on various language/communication skills including, but not limited to:
Joint attention: everyone is paying attention to the same activity
Turn-taking: each individual has an opportunity to participate in the said activity
Receptive language: language you understand. Think: reading a book, playing Simon Says
Expressive language: language you communicate. Think: playing house, playing ISpy
Articulation: working on target sounds (e.g., /s/ or “sit”)
Voice: using an “indoor” voice or “outdoor” voice
Let's Talk About Including the Whole Family More
One of your children may be speaking in full sentences and every word can be understood. Another child may not be speaking, and another may be speaking with just single words. You can still engage them in the same activity by modifying your interactions to be appropriate for each child. For example, while reading a book, you could ask one child, “What do you think will happen next?” (making predictions/inferencing). Then, ask another child to point at an image on the page, or point to it yourself and say, “What’s this?” (labeling).
Some children may be able to sit and read books for 30 minutes, other children for only 3 minutes. That is okay. You do not need to have a scoresheet - meaning each child does not need to participate equally in each activity. Obviously, you would like for them all to be involved, but any language building is better than none!
You can still engage them in the same activity by modifying your interactions to be appropriate for each child.