We have always read her bible stories, even before she was verbal. In fact she used to sign before she could speak and one of the earliest signs she learned was "Jesus." She could also sign church, God, Lord and many other words from the Bible. Once she started to speak more often, she started to learning how to say these words. If you read the Bible very often you know that there are some very hard to pronounce names, even for adults. I believe that seeing these names in print and learning to pronounce them is a really good exercise. By pointing out certain names and places in the story and having them repeat it also makes them more interactive in the story and will help their comprehension as well. Anyway, I always did love hearing her pronounce some of those tough names. Here was her last night talking about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego after watching the Veggie Tale Movie: Rack, Shack and Benny.
Prayer is also very good speech activity. We have always said her bedtime prayers with her. When she first started to speak we started having her repeat the words after us. It is important to note that while there are some parts of the prayer we always say the same, for the most part our prayers are different every day. This helps her not only to understand what words we say, but that the point of prayer is to "converse" with God about things that are meaningful to you. This concept seems to be getting through to her for she has added, on her own, the words "talk about God" to her prayer each day. It is as if she not only knows she is praying, but it is a time to talk about (or to) God. She just shares things that are important to her and tells God about them. I had her do a sample prayer this morning so you could see how much of her prayer is intelligible speech. She has moments when it is not very intelligible and that is mostly when she is gathering her thoughts, it is sort of her own kind of stutter, but once she gets them out she is very clear. To understand this prayer you must realize that we are going on a trip next week and will be staying at a Holiday Inn that has a pool. Her most favorite place in the world to go is to a hotel with a pool.
Memory verses are another great speech enhancer. We found that Gess' speech was improved after she began to read, even when she was learning only sight words. We used that reading to help teach her memory verses as well. We write the verse and teach her the words and have her memorize it. They are usually a shortened version of the verse, but she still does a really great job at it. In fact she will probably be earning her Skipper Book Award at Awana this year for doing such a great job memorizing verses! This really helps to teach the child to speak the words clearly as well as speak in sentence form. It has the added bonus of keeping Christian principles close to their heart.
Of course singing Bible songs, especially those that have hand motions, is also good activity for speech. In fact we will sing all kinds of songs, including secular ones, and add either hand motions or signs to it. She loves to sing and it is a good speech activity.
These are a few things we have done to help my daughter's speech and make her exercises a part of our every day activities. Our bedtime stories, whether Bible based or not, become exercises in speech, as well as her evening prayer, night at Awana and even play time. I am thankful to the Lord for providing these opportunities and for recognizing how significant they have been when put into practice.