Special education articles, higher education

Bringing Speech and Language Practice Into the Everyday – Mealtimes

Posted on Jun 17, 2016 in Edu

The United Kingdom is home to one of the most incredible childhood speech and language therapist communities in the entire world. From Speech Therapy for schools to private home therapy and an endless variety of focused specialism, quite literally any and every common and rare childhood speech disorder has the potential to be addressed and rectified in the right hands.

Nevertheless, the vast majority of children will not in fact require professional speech and language therapy during their own development. It’s natural for every child across the board to develop at an entirely different way than every other, which can inherently cause some parents to feel their own children are falling behind.

Realistically however, as there is no such thing as an established rulebook when it comes to the speed at which children should progress, ‘falling behind’ is a blurred concept to say the least. It’s always a good idea to speak to a professional speech therapist at even the first note of concern, but in the vast majority of instances it will turn out to be nothing more than a slight stumble or stepping-stone on the way to success.

Everyday Assistance

The most important thing parents need to remember is that they themselves will always play the most important role of all when it comes to assisting their own children with their everyday speech and language development. Pretty much every day to day activity in its own right represents the perfect opportunity to help develop a child’s speech and language skills, while at the same time having fun.

If you can get into the habit of bringing these kinds of speech and language development lessons into everyday life, you’ll soon find them becoming an everyday norm you do not even think about.

For example, mealtimes represent outstanding opportunities to get your kids talking and to help improve and advance their development at the same time. It may seem like a hectic daily event where there’s really no time to focus on such things, but when you think about it, it’s actually the perfect opportunity to get talking.


For example, given the fact that mealtimes come around so often and are such an important daily event, there’s really no better time to begin introducing new words. You can potentially expand your child’s vocabulary enormously, simply by talking about the ingredients, meals and hardware involved in cooking and eating a meal at home. And of course, all the better if you take the opportunity to introduce your child to the most varied diet possible, ticking healthy and nutrition boxes while at the same time introducing a variety of new words into their vocabulary.


Mealtimes also represent some of the very best times of all for introducing new adjectives and proactively encouraging strong speech and language development. When you think about it, your child is presented with such an incredible array of colours, tastes, shapes, sizes, smells and so on, the likes of which make for obvious and extremely helpful conversation points. It could be as easy as getting them to describe the texture or shape of a vegetable, their favourite colour on the plate, what taste they like and don’t like and so on. The fact that it is an activity they are inherently involved in and focused on at the time will assist enormously with the learning process.


You might want to think about getting your child involved (perhaps not literally) in the preparation and cooking process as well, as doing so can be highly beneficial in terms of language development. There is an extraordinary array of verbs that are directly linked to food and the preparation thereof – all of which you can begin exposing your child to from a young age. You could be mixing, chopping, peeling, washing, mashing, boiling, baking and so on and so forth – the list really is endless.


Another great game to play during meal times is that of choosing a category and asking your child to name as many relevant foods or ingredients as possible.  The obvious example being something like meat, after which they then reel-off as many different meats as possible. Fruits and vegetables can also be fun, though will undoubtedly cause confusion if you decide to correct your child by telling them that bananas are not in fact fruits and tomatoes are not in fact vegetables!


Last but not least, while it’s true to say that the latter list may have considerably more entries if you are dealing with a picky toddler, you will usually always find that the little ones have plenty to say when it comes to what they like and don’t like. Which generally tends to make for an ideal conversation topic as instead of just allowing them to express their likes and dislikes, there’s always the option of expanding on things by asking them exactly why they do and do not like certain things.