Raising Articulate Kids

BRAG ALERT!  On the way home from school recently my oldest son was telling me about his day. He was describing a situation with one of the teachers at his school and said:

“She’s different than all of the other teachers. She’s not mean. I wouldn’t call it mean because she is fair, but she is… well… intimidating”.

I was so proud of him for taking the time to articulate his thoughts and observations. So many times it’s easier to throw out the word “mean” because even a toddler knows that word, but to really process whether it was simply being mean or something more complex takes a lot of maturity and I commended him on that. I am proud of how my kids can speak out and express themselves. Every single one of them at some point was labeled as “strong-willed” by someone with an opinion, to which I eventually just rolled my eyes (at least internally). It’s easy to be frustrated with a child that isn’t super compliant when you want them to be, but there are so many benefits to raising a strong-willed child and I believe one of them is that they are more inclined to articulate their thoughts and needs. The key is teaching the appropriate and most effective ways to do this. So in this article I would like to explore 10 ways to help your child become more articulate.


  1. Don’t Dumb Down Their Vocabulary

It’s okay to use big words with young children, just make sure you are explaining those words and that they have an understanding of what you are saying. There are so many great resources for how to implement this, such as the picture book “Big Words for Little People” or the books or show “Fancy Nancy“. I also give an example in number four on this list.

2. Early Intervention therapy is a blessing

Please hear me out, when I write about raising articulate kids this isn’t coming from the queen of high tea. I’m the messy mom, so let’s keep it real. THREE of my four children have had speech therapy/early intervention. As someone who had to fight hard for my deaf daughter to be able to communicate, I understand the value of intervention and giving kids the tools they need to advocate for themselves and articulate their thoughts ideas, and feelings.  There is absolutely no shame in reaching out for help if your child needs. It is also important to recognize that effective self expression can present itself in many different ways.

3. Give opportunity for the child to speak

I just wrote a blog post about intentional pausing to allow children the opportunity to process, ponder, and respond. Even with my husband I will literally look at the clock and make sure I wait at least a minute to let him finish his sentence before I jump in. Sometimes he pauses for so long I think he is finished but he isn’t. He is an introvert and his brain takes longer to process things  (this is not a slam against intoverts, it can definitely be a benefit).

Whether introverted or not it is important that we allow a space/break in conversation for our children to articulate their thoughts.


Research continues to show that the more children are exposed to reading, the richer their vocabulary becomes.  I like what scholastic says about using books for vocabulary boosters

“Put as much expression as possible into your reading. When you come to a word that is sophisticated, draw it out. Take the word “scrumptious,” for example. Say it slowly as part of the sentence and then add a comment like, “Scrumptious. Hmm, that means really, really good. Look at that apple pie. It sure looks scrumptious to me.”


5. Get them in front of a crowd

I am a believer in using public speaking as a way to build a child’s confidence. It teaches a child important life skills such as how to speak with clarity, conviction, and confidence! Whether it is at school, church, a play, or some other creative method, find ways to give your child an opportunity to speak in front of a crowd.

6.  Narrate

Talking out loud and narrating what you are looking at or doing is especially important for babies. You might be at the grocery store with a baby in the shopping cart and you start explaining everything that is happening. “Let’s go over to the bananas. I am going to pick out a big bunch of bananas. This one looks nice and yellow. These bananas are going in the cart!

It doesn’t stop with babies though, it just changes a little. You may not be narrating anymore, but it is still important that our kids hear us express ourselves and observe how we interact with our spouses, their teachers, or even when we are going through difficulties.

7. Congratulate and encourage

I used the example of my son describing his intimidating teacher. I was able to commend him for choosing his words carefully. Another example was at a Doctor’s visit. The pediatrician made sure they directed the questions at my child and allowed him to answer. After describing his feelings the Doctor said “You speak well for yourself. That’s important.” That happened years ago but the value of it has always stuck with me.

8. Ask open ended questions

It’s so easy to ask yes or no questions and allow our kids to keep it short and sweet, but if we really want to know how they are feeling it’s better to prompt a discussion. Here is a list of examples.

9. Limit screentime

I think it’s even more difficult to raise articulate children these days than in years past because teenagers and kids are spending so much time online or texting. Meanwhile, their communication skills are plummeting! A way to combat this is by having boundaries and limitations on their screen time. I know some kids get phones for emergency situations and such, but I think we need to take a great deal consideration in how early we introduce the use of digital interaction (texting, DMs, or social media).

10. Teach Them the Power of Words

For our family, as Christians, we are teaching our kids what the Bible has to say about the words we choose. For example:

Proverbs 20:15 Wise words are more valuable than much gold and many rubies.

Proverbs 18:21 Your tongue has the power of life and death. Those who love to talk will eat the fruit of their words.


Those are just some of the ways that we can help our children to clearly and appropriately express their thoughts. Even with all of those tips though I think the most important way is leading by example and then having listening ears when our children are trying to tell us something.

By |2023-06-12T06:33:33+00:00September 11, 2019|Speech Therapy, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Intentional Pauses

The book Hamlet’sBlackberry: A practical philosophy for building a good life in the digital age by William Powers is an all-time favorite of mine. Even though no one has Blackberry phones anymore the information in the book still applies! It’s all about finding balance in a world of hyper-connectivity. Powers is not against technology at all, but he says what makes it work for and not against us is when we have some spaces in between the screen time. Powers says the trouble comes when “We don’t have any gaps, any breaks in which to make sense of it; do something new, creative with it; enjoy it,” The same notion applies to how we interact with our children. We have to leave gaps or space to let things sink in.

Some space comes in the form of subtle pauses. Let me give an example by sharing a very personal video from 7 years ago.

The video has actually been shared in professional circles for use in conferences and teachings for people that work with the deaf and cochlear implant recipients. After my daughter had her first cochlear implant surgery I was prompting her to speak. Keep in mind she had never said anything before so to see her respond to any auditory stimuli was a huge breakthrough.

What her therapist and Otolaryngoly team loved about this video was the connection that took place in the pauses where she was given the opportunity to respond. If for some reason you can’t see the video it’s very simple. I show her a Woody cowboy doll and say Boot, b-b-b and then after about 5 seconds she says Buh. I am not trying to brag about how awesome I am at speech therapy, because they just happened to catch a glimpse of a very touching moment. The point is if you go through speech therapy with your child you will learn that as important as it is to narrate everything, and give them tons of modeling, prompting, and auditory training. What is equally as important is that you pause. It’s in that space that they can chew on it, process it, and have a chance to respond to it.

It’s not just about what you say, but also the spaces where you don’t say anything at all. These pauses give children a chance to really think and evaluate.

Sometimes the pauses are for our benefit. I’m pretty sure every parent struggles with anger or outburst when a situation with a child escalates past the breaking point. I know that for me I have reacted and implemented discipline in the moment that I later regretted. For example, one child hit another in the backseat and I was so mad that I told them they couldn’t go to the birthday party they were looking forward to. The truth was we were all going to the party and it wasn’t a consequence I could follow through with. Rather than just reacting I should have remembered this advice from the book Love and Logic:

 Don’t feel like you have to hurry into an immediate reaction. Give yourself time when coming up with a consequence and just let the child know that it’s sad and you are going to care of it later.

The kicker is you still have to follow through. Sometimes this hard because life keeps going and forgetting the offense can happen. Still, I feel better when I pause and take a moment rather than just react.

There are so many benefits of intentional pausing. It’s the little things like just enjoying a moment in silence together, or watching as your disgruntled child soften ups and decides to ask for forgiveness. So much can happen when we pause for a moment.

I know we live in a very fast paced world where we aren’t used to slowing down and taking a breath, but we need to. We need to with God (Proverbs 46:10 Be still) and we need to with our children. It’s amazing what can happen if you make some space for it.


This post was originally featured in a series called “Teachable Parenting” For more articles like this check out the contents page here.

By |2023-06-12T06:33:44+00:00September 5, 2019|Speech Therapy, Uncategorized|1 Comment

Baby Elle 5 Months

Here we are on the tippy tail end of Aril and Elle is closer to 6 months than she is to 5, but I haven’t posted an update yet.


At 5 months she weighed 17 pounds. She is in the top 25th percentile for weight. Maybe that’s why she isn’t very mobile yet.


The day she turned 5 months (April 10th) it snowed, which is crazy, but as soon as the weather cleared up a little I took her outside. I wanted to get a picture of her in some winter clothes that she wouldn’t be able to fit in next year.


Unfortunately Elle was captivated by all the sights, textures, and sounds of the outdoors and she didn’t give me and my camera the slightest glance. I eventually gave up. The perk of being a photographer is that when she woke up from her nap with a big smile on her face I grabbed the camera again and started shooting.

baby ellis (1)

She rolls over now. Mostly back to tummy and she can push herself up a lot more than what you see her doing in this photo.

She still has blue eyes although I can already see some pigment coming in. The jury is still out on whether they will be brown or green though.

baby ellis

Elle continues to do well in occupational therapy and speech therapy. She is also still exclusively breast fed and obviously not missing any meals (I hear that comment a lot). So everything is going great with baby Elle. She could not be loved anymore than we all love her, that’s for sure. She is precious and I am beyond blessed to be her mom.


By |2023-06-12T06:34:08+00:00April 29, 2016|My Life, Speech Therapy|1 Comment

Create Your Own Speech Therapy Book

When SJ was first diagnosed with hearing loss I was encouraged to create an experience book. Books are a great resource for speech delays anyway, but a book that has pictures and experiences that your child can directly identify with is even better.


I try to make a new one every year so that we can expand on what she has learned. Here is a look at how easy it is to create and implement.

First Words

The first book was the most basic both in it’s design and the words that were in it. For this one all you need is

  • 4×6 photo album
  • Pictures of your child or objects that are familiar
  • Index cards to spell out the words you are encouraging the child to say

I chose words like hurt along with a picture of SJ with a boo boo


or sleep with a pic of her sleeping.


Trash is a word you may not find in your typical “first words” book, but trash (or some people say garbage) is a word we use everyday. That’s the beauty of customizing your own language book. You get to choose what to put in it.


When we first made this book we weren’t even ready to start with saying words we were mostly working on the ling sounds like “Shhhhhh” for sleeping or “mmmm” for eating. Eventually she learned all the words and it was time to make a new, more advanced book!

First Sentences


At this point she was learning the names of everyone in the family


Along with the places we visited frequently (like the grocery store, museum, or school).


When we started the book we kept it very simple and I had her repeat the words “Breakfast” “Lunch” “Dinner”. Eventually she started saying sentences and so we could expand to say “I see my teacher”. You can show a picture of a friend or a teacher, but it’s more meaningful to the child when they see their friend or their teacher.



Early Reading and Abstract concepts


She got this book for her birthday and she absolutely LOVES it. For this book I wanted to put in some sentences that she could read on her own because she is learning to read now. So for example “I love my family” is not expanding her speech because that is a sentence she has been able to say for a while now, but it’s simple enough to read. SJ loves to point to and sound out all the words.


Then I included parts that are a little more difficult to read, but they are words and ideas that I hope she will start to have a better understanding of. For example, this page says “Sometimes I am sad, but I still obey mommy and daddy because that is a good choice. If I make a bad choice I say I am sorry. Mommy and daddy love me when I am happy or sad. They will always love me.”



This can certainly apply to any child, not just special needs. My oldest son has recently requested that I make a book for him and I plan to do that next.

Now let’s look at the progression

If the first book says “School”

The next book says “I go to School at Ohio Valley Voices”

Then the next book says “I go to School at Ohio Valley Voices in Loveland Ohio”

It’s been so rewarding to watch SJ learn to communicate. I am really grateful that the idea for this was introduced to me and I hope it can be helpful to others.

Both of the hardback photo books shown here are from Shutterfly and I cannot recommend them enough. Right now there is a promotion going on for a free 8×8 photo book just like the one I’ve shown on here. The coupon code is ” SPRINGONIT “It expires tomorrow (March 22, 2016) so I know that’s not much time, but I will tell you that the Shutterfly website makes it so easy to throw these books together, so it doesn’t take much effort and they turn out beautifully. If you miss this offer you can catch the next one. Just Like Shutterfly on Facebook or sign up for their email to be in the know on the latest deals.

Your child will love seeing their pictures in print and you will love hearing them say all the new words. It’s a simple, but wonderful tool all the way around.


Summer School

I have been blown away by SJ’s recent progress with speech. This time a year ago these were the new phrases she said

Daddy has keys
I want chocolate milk
Snack for later
These short sentences were huge breakthroughs for her at the time!

Aiming high in this photo from last summer.

These are the latest things I have heard her say. Of course there are countless others, but these are ones I managed to write down.
Daddy, I want shut this because I am hot. This was referring to the sunroof.
Mommy I found missing piece under bed. This was referring to a puzzle.
One minute. I am trying to put all stuff in my bag.
Ezie won’t get out of bathroom mommy! There are two people in bathroom! Two people is bad choice.
That not kitty cat. That Hello Kitty. See he has a bow on his head and he has pants on. 
There mommy car over there next to daddy’s car.
I like go to Chuck E. Cheese with my family.
Obviously she is still leaving articles out of sentences, but we are moving right along.

Her preschool graduation program. Some children are wearing a cap and gown because they were graduating from the school and will begin mainstream schooling.

She had less than a week off before starting summer school, but the summer program is only half day and at the end of last week she came home wearing a straw hat with a lei and drinking the milk from a coconut.

The end of beach week at summer school.

So there is no shortage of fun. It’s like camp for her.
In other exciting news she is officially a Kindergartener! I honestly didn’t know how they would place her considering her speech percentile is so very low, but she will be in a credited kindergarten program at her deaf school. The curriculum will certainly be modified, but she has already transferred to the kindergarten classroom with her new teacher. So far she really likes it.

A silly pose in front of the sign at her school that she has attended for just over 2 years now.

I have had some total tear jerker moments lately hearing her talk to other children at the park, or even just saying the title of the movie “Frozen” and the names of the characters “Elsa, Anna, and Olaf”. There was a time not that long ago that only dreamed of her being able to say the names of movies or things that she enjoyed. She loves to talk about the baby and how mommy is growing and growing.
 I’ve had so many people give me such encouraging reports about how they heard her talking for the first time or just acknowledging how far she’s come. It’s been another big wave of vocabulary. It does tend to come in waves and summer is usually a plataue, but I am really, REALLY hoping she continues to ride this wave and show growth throughout the summer, even as therapy slows down.
I’ll end with the best compliment of all which comes from my 4 old niece who will be 5 in a couple weeks.

SJ with her cousin last weekend.

This is what I was told she said to her parents after spending Sunday afternoon with SJ
“Guess what!? I almost forgot to tell you the good news!
SJ can talk almost as good as me now. She says hi and can say other things sounding just like me!”
Little kids don’t sugar coat details, we know that. There is no doubt that at 5 years old other children will notice that SJ is different, but to hear her cousin give this update is legit. She is slowly, but surely starting to catch up. 


I curled her hair for church and it lasted two seconds of course. It was already flat by the time I took this photo.

By |2023-06-12T06:34:54+00:00June 19, 2015|Speech Therapy, Uncategorized|8 Comments

Speech Therapy Behind The Scenes

I don’t mean to sound like a broken record or, to be more current, a song stuck on repeat, but learning to talk with a cochlear implant is a lot of hard work! SJ rivals A-List celebrities with the size of the entourage she has working with her. I even have to go special meetings, classes, and conferences to learn right along with her. 

She goes to school 5 days a week and has private therapy daily. She has made some significant strides since she was remapped a month ago. She turns to her name consistently. I used to call for her as a listening test just to see if “it worked”, now I call for her in a normal and practical way expecting that she will respond to my voice. She has even heard me from another room. Some sounds that are frequently heard around our house are the baby crying, Z’s video games, a timer beeping, and the cell phone ringing. I shared the video I have of her hearing the first two and since then she has also responded to the timer and the phone. This is a breakthrough that I had previously only dreamed about! 

There are so many steps to hearing that we take for granted because for most of us it is just like breathing or drinking. I bet you are a pro in the area of auditory processing. If you go outside and hear birds chirping up in the trees, you are able to accomplish sound detection, discrimination, and localization without even trying. This process is one that we are in the middle of working on with SJ along with starting some vocalization. So far SJ has said “Uh-Oh”, “up”, “more”, and some animal noises. She has made several attempts at other words when prompted too (prompting is when you say the word for her so that she can repeat it). One thing I’ve learned about since she started school that is worth mentioning is called”approximation”. It’s when the word sounds approximately like whatever she is trying to say. When SJ tries to mimic a word, or produce a sound, or a melody, it is usually completely unrecognizable, but for where she is at (5 months old hearing age) she is doing great. We are not working on articulation. We are not working on sentences or manners yet. What we are working on right now is getting her to be able to recognize and produce basic sounds and every effort on her part is worthy of celebration. 
In this video you will see SJ putting together a Mr. Potato Head. Her therapist is prompting her to say the name of each part before giving it to her. She doesn’t always cooperate (just to be perfectly honest), but this was a good day for this particular activity. 

Now that is what a I call a pretty little girl with a bright future! 
By |2023-06-12T06:33:16+00:00May 3, 2013|Speech Therapy, Uncategorized|3 Comments
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