10 Tips to Help Your Child’s Speech and Language Development – In the Car!

family driving photo

10 Tips to Help Your Child’s Speech & Language Development

– In the Car!

By: Amanda Goodison, MSc, RSLP, Speech-Language Pathologist at Leap Therapy


As much as we may not want to admit it, let’s face it, many families are spending increasing amounts of time on the road– driving to and from practices, lessons, clubs, parties, and many other kids’ activities. It can be tempting to throw on a DVD or hand out a glowing screen of some kind, but did you know this is actually valuable time you can use to encourage your child’s speech and language development?


Here are some tips to help you take advantage of this time with your captive audience!


1. This first one is a no-brainer: TALK! Talk lots to your children and engage them in conversation about things that interest them.

2. During construction season (which, in Vancouver, seems to be year-round), “collect” construction vehicles. Younger children can identify with vocabulary such as “digger,” and “dumptruck,” while slightly older children might use more sophisticated vocabulary like “front end loader” or count how many of each type of vehicle they have seen.

3. Look for familiar signs. Young children might recognize the Tim Horton’s or Starbucks logos. Children who know some letters might pick the first letter in their own name to scan for as you drive by signs, and children who can read might collect words to spell out a sentence.

4. Take the opportunity to check in with kids on something that may have triggered big feelings within the past few days. Something about not being face to face and not being forced to make eye contact can make it easier to for kids and teens to open up about their feelings.

5. Rhyme time! Before they begin to read, kids need to gather information about the sound system and can benefit greatly from sound play and rhyming. Pick something you see outside your window and help your child find rhymes for it. The rhyming words do not have to be real words in English (e.g. “house, mouse, touse, fouse, chouse….”). In fact, including nonsense words in rhyming games can make it easier for children to learn the concept of rhyming, since nonsense words help separate sound from meaning.

6. Play “I spy.” This game is great for young kids who already know their colours and are learning to take someone else’s perspective. If your kids are older, you can make the secret item more challenging.

7. Sing! Most babies, toddlers and preschoolers will love to sing, clap, and do the actions for familiar songs like “Wheels on the Bus,” “Roly Poly,” “Old MacDonald” and “B-I-N-G-O.” Click HERE for more tips on singing with little ones.

8. Think of things that fit into categories, like “vehicles,” “food,” “clothes,” etc. Younger children can tell you if an item you name is “something we eat,” or “something we wear.” Older kids can think of things that fit into narrower, more challenging categories, and can play for points if they want to make it competitive.

9. Get insights on what they like and dislike by having them tell you what their favourite thing about the day was, as well as their least favourite (or their “rose” and their “thorn,” if you want a metaphor). This can open up some really important discussions and pave the way for collaborative problem-solving.

10. If all else fails, blast the radio and belt out the lyrics. Music can also be very beneficial to speech and language development!


Happy driving!


Leap TherapyNote that Leap! Therapy for Kids in North Vancouver is offering a complementary speech sound screening, administered by a registered speech-language pathologist, on Friday, November 7 from 10am to 12pm. This screening is for children ages 3-5 whose parents/caregivers have questions or concerns about their speech sound productions, pronunciation, or articulation. Drop-ins will be accepted but it is recommended that families call to book a clinic time. Please contact Leap! Therapy for Kids at 604-770-0101 or info@leaptherapy.ca to register and for any additional information or inquiries.

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