There are strategies that can be incorporated into a child’s daily routine to boost their speech and language skills at home and within the classroom setting. The following strategies were developed to support the most common areas of communication difficulty. All suggestions may not be appropriate for every student or every setting and may need to be modified on an individual basis.

Articulation: These strategies are intended for teachers and parents of students who have difficulty saying certain sounds.

  • If you cannot understand a student and you have asked them to repeat themselves, it might help to ask the student to show you or say it in a different way. For example, ask the student to write the word if they are able to do so.
  • If the student’s response contains a known sound error, it’s important to repeat what the child said with an appropriate model. For example, if the child says ‘nake’ for snake, you would say, “Oh, you want the snake.” This way you are not focusing on the error or calling negative attention to the child, but providing an appropriate model.
  • With younger children bring whatever you are talking about closer to your mouth so that the child is more apt to focus on speech production.
  • If you hear a consistent speech sound error, use written text to increase the child’s ability to see, hear, and be aware of that sound. For example, ask the student to find all of the words containing the error sound in a page of a story. Make this a routine in your classroom so that no student is singled out.
  • If you have a student who is able to make a sound correctly some of the time when they know an adult is listening, set up a non-verbal cue with that child to let them know that you are listening (e.g., put your hand on the student’s shoulder before you call on them to read aloud.)
  • Highlight words in their own writing or in classroom worksheets that contain sounds that the child misarticulates.
  • Reading aloud and keying into the words with the sound is very important.
  • Use stories with a lot of emphasis on the sound.
  • Help to sound out written words.
  • Find pictures together in books or stories that have the sound.
  • Talk about how different sounds are made with your mouth.
  • Associate the sound with an object, action, or noise to help practice it in a fun way.
  • Play ” I’m thinking of a word that starts with: st, sp, thr,” (identify pictures in books).
  • Make matching picture cards with the sounds to play Go Fish, Memory or Lotto.
  • Find objects with the sound/ start a collection.
  • Play “I’m thinking of a word that starts (or ends) with ______(make the sound).”

Grammar/Sentence Structure: These strategies are intended for students who have difficulty with grammar and/or sentence structure.

  • If the child says something incorrectly, repeat it for them correctly in a natural way. Be sensitive about not calling negative attention to their language. For example, if the child says “I goed to the store.” You’d say, “Oh, you went to the store. I went to the store yesterday too!”
  • When the child’s speech or writing contains grammar or word order errors, show them in writing the correct form.
  • When working with the child individually with written or oral language, repeat the error and ask the child how the sentence sounds. For example, if the child says or writes, “I goed to the store.” You say, “I goed to the store? Does that sound right?” If the child is unable to correct it, give them a choice. For example, “Which sounds better, ‘I goed to the store.’ or ‘I went to the store.’?”
  • For frequently occurring errors, build oral language practice into the daily routine for the entire class.

Vocabulary/Word Meanings: These strategies are intended for students who have difficulty with vocabulary/word meaning.

  • Prior to introducing new units or stories, compile a list of key vocabulary words. Discuss the words and their possible meanings with students.
  • When introducing words, try using a graphic organizer or visual mapping to come up with word relationships, including antonyms or synonyms.
  • When possible, pair a picture with the vocabulary words. When vocabulary is abstract and pictures are not available, try to relate the words to a personal experience to which students can relate.
  • Place words and definitions on note cards. Use the cards to play games such as matching or memory.
  • Create a word list with vocabulary and definitions to display in a visible place within the classroom.
  • Provide students with a vocabulary list including definitions one week prior to beginning a new unit.
  • Encourage the use of word-games at home (Tribond, etc.).
  • Consult with a speech-language therapist for more ideas using graphic organizers.

Concepts: These strategies are intended for students who have difficulty understanding concepts.

K-1st grade

  • Provide a visual demonstration of the concept. For example, if working on the concept ‘on,’ actually put an item ‘on’ a table.
  • Have the children physically demonstrate the concept when possible. Have the student actually get ‘on’ a carpet square.
  • Let the student use objects to demonstrate comprehension of the concept. Have the student verbalize comprehension by explaining what they did with the object. ‘Where did you put the bear?’ ‘I put it on the table.’
  • Have the student use the concept in a variety of situations throughout the day. Use their bodies, pencil and paper, in different places of the school, etc.

2nd Grade - 12th Grade

  • Allow students to use manipulatives to solve math problems to give them a visual cue.
  • When working on time and measurement concepts use visual organizers (i.e., timelines, thermometers, graphic organizers, etc.). Allow students to use these visual organizers on tests or projects.
  • Keep a running list of concepts the student is having trouble with and utilize others (i.e., classroom aids or student teachers) to help work on those concepts individually.
  • Give students time to talk through new concepts in social studies, science, math, etc.

Fluency: These strategies are intended for students that have fluency issues related to stuttering.

  • Allow the student to complete his/her thoughts without interrupting or completing the sentence for them.
  • It is important not to ask the child to stop or start over their sentence. Asking the student to ‘take a breath’ or ‘relax’ can feel demeaning and is not helpful.
  • Maintain natural eye contact with the student. Try not to feel embarrassed or anxious as the student will pick up on your feelings and could become more anxious. Wait naturally until the child is finished.
  • Use a slow and relaxed rate with your own speech, but not so slow that you sound unnatural. Using pauses in your speech is an effective way to slow down your speech rate as well as the student’s.
  • Give the student your full attention when they are speaking so that they know you are listening to what they have to say. You can be most supportive when the child does not feel that they need to fight for your attention. With younger children it may help if you get down to their level to let them know they have your attention.
  • After a student completes a conversational turn, it would be helpful for you to rephrase what they said in a fluent manner. This can be helpful as the student realizes you understand what they said, but also provides a fluent model for them.
  • Try to call on the student in class when you feel that they will be successful with the answer (when the student raises his/her hand) versus putting the student on the spot when they have not volunteered information. In addition, new material or complex information may result in decreased fluency.

Following Directions: These strategies are intended for students who have difficulty following directions.

  • When giving directions, repeat them using different words.
  • Using gestures when giving directions can be beneficial.
  • If there are several directions, give one to two directions at a time versus all at once.
  • Be specific when giving directions.
  • If possible, give a visual cue. For example, if you are making something with students, you can demonstrate the steps as you go along. Showing the completed project will also provide them assistance.
  • When working with projects that have multi-step directions, it may be helpful to write the directions on the board.
  • Create a list of common directions that are used throughout the day. When needed, they can be laminated and placed on the board for the entire class, or a smaller version can be placed on the child’s desk.
  • The student may benefit from sitting next to another child who would be willing to provide assistance with multi-step tasks.

Processing Information: These strategies can be used with children who have difficulty processing information they hear.

  • Call the student's name before asking questions. Ensure the student's attention.
  • Use a slower rate of speaking when presenting information
  • Ask basic questions that have the answer in a picture or can be demonstrated through a hands-on activity.
  • Before presenting auditory information, tell the student what to listen for.
  • Provide small group opportunities where the children can discuss newly learned concepts or ideas.
  • Provide adequate time for the child to process what you have asked and to form their answer. If the child does not respond after a given period of time, ask the question in a different way.
  • Use several modalities when teaching (speaking, reading, writing, listening, visual, hands-on).
  • Do frequent comprehension checks when teaching. Stop periodically and discuss the information you have presented.
  • Encourage the child to ask for help.
  • Provide additional support for writing down information, such as assignments in the student’s homework notebook. Actual pictures could also be taken of what needs to go home (e.g. math book, writing notebook). Some students may need written directions that explain how to complete assignments so that parents can assist them in the home.

Social Communication: These strategies are intended for students about whom you have concerns with social communication skills. Social and pragmatic skills can differ significantly from child to child.

  • Social stories are stories written to positively depict a situation in which a student has a difficult time,providing the student with appropriate ways to interact or respond.
  • Visual schedules provide students who may need visual input to assist with transitions and expectations for the day.
  • Allow the student to work in a group with students who are accepting and supportive.
  • Search for opportunities that support appropriate social interactions, i.e., “Bobby, will you please go to Sue’s desk and ask her to bring me her Math folder.”
  • Avoid having activities where students ‘pick’ a partner. Assign partners instead to avoid feelings of rejection.
  • Board games and card games can be beneficial as they promote turn taking and sportsmanship. Be available to support sportsmanship and help to remember that playing the game is more important than winning the game.
  • Comment on positive models for targeted social skills when used by other students in the classroom (Jenny, I really like how you raised your hand instead of interrupting me when I was talking to the class.).

Students with hearing loss: These strategies are intended to support students with hearing loss.

  • The student must sit where it is easiest to access auditory information and/or their interpreter. This is usually towards the front of the class and towards the side with the aided or implanted ear facing the teacher.
  • Help with lip reading by: speaking naturally and facing the student.
  • Be aware that while writing on the board, the student is likely to miss much of what is said.
  • Repetition, rewording, and re-phrasing are necessary.
  • Avoid changing the topic without warning.
  • Be sure you have the student’s attention before beginning instruction.
  • VISUAL AIDS!! Outlines, charts, diagrams, webs, etc. Anything to help information to be seen instead of heard is helpful.
  • Videos and DVDs can be hard to understand and MUST have captioning. is a great resource for FREE videos with captioning.
  • Check the student’s comprehension by asking SPECIFIC questions, not yes or no questions. Nodding and smiling are common reactions from a student who is lost.
  • The buddy system can be helpful, but be sure the student does not become overly dependent.
  • The hearing aid or cochlear implant does not give the student normal hearing. Distance from speaker, background noise, and the nature of the hearing loss all contribute to a student’s ability to understand speech.
  • Expect the same standards of behavior from the Deaf or Hard of Hearing students as you do from their hearing peers.
  • It may be difficult for the student to follow classroom discussion that is stitching from one student to another. A summary from the teacher is crucial.
  • The student may find it difficult if not impossible to take notes in a lecture style lesson. Provide note takes paper or a copy of teacher notes.
  • If student uses a FM system remember to wear the microphone and speak naturally.

Students with poor vocal quality - If you have a student whose vocal quality is consistently hoarse, breathy, rough or they have no voice; or their vocal quality gets progressively worse as the day goes on, try the following:

  • Allow the student to have a water bottle at their desk for the student to take frequent sips of.
  • Discuss healthy ways for students to use their voices, i.e. drink water,no caffeine, no yelling or making strange noises, or to use a quiet voice, but NOT to whisper.
  • Provide a positive comment to a student for using good vocal hygiene, such as not shouting to get attention.
  • Place a visual cue on students’ desk (like a picture of someone talking). When you hear vocal misuse, touch the picture on the desk to help remind the student to use good vocal techniques.

Information obtained from