To the Parent Wanting an App to Teach Their Child to Talk

I was just looking through my blog statistics (it’s the researcher in me) and I saw that someone did an “engine search” (meaning they looked it up on Yahoo or Google) using the key words “best app for teaching a child to talk.”

Unbelievable.

As someone who has worked professionally with children and is trained in this area, I can confidently give you (the person who did the search) my professional opinion on your query (in case you decide to do the search again).

My opinion is the app called “You.”

You are the person your child will learn to speak from, not an app.

Here’s a primer on language development:

  • Talk to your child ALL THE TIME.
  • Narrate what you are doing as you are doing it: “Now I’m cracking the eggs. Look the eggs are yellow.”
  • Narrate what your child is doing as they do it: “Oh, you’re looking at the dolly. The dolly is pretty.”
  • Read to your child every day.
  • Spend as much one-on-one time with your child as you can: that means no t.v., no computers, no apps.
  • Pick one word and repeat it over and over and over again; pick a work that is meaningful to your child (milk, more, momma, dadda, help, no, eat, drink) and concentrate on working with your child on that word and that word alone.
  • If your child wants an object, prompt your child to say the name of the object before giving your child the object. “You want the milk? Can you say MIIILLLKK??” (If your child is unable to say the name of the object, give it to them before they become too frustrated and try again the next time.)
  • Praise your child for approximating the word. If they say “bu” for “ball” praise them a lot; lavish praise on them. “Yeah!!! Yes!!! You said “Bu!! BALL!!”

No speech therapist is going to use an app to teach your child to talk; they are going to work with your child and are going to label things for your child. They are going to point to objects and get your child excited about an object and say the name of the object slowly and carefully, over and over again. They are going to help your child develop speech by imitating other humans.

Computers are not the answers to our child’s speech, development or social problems. More likely than not, they contribute to these problems instead.

As I have said before, any time spent interacting with a cell phone or a computer or an i-pod is time your child could be interacting with a human. And human-to-human is much more powerful and meaningful than any human-to-machine interaction.

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