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Take Home Preschool Language Development
Ages: 1-5   Grades: Infant-K

Teach parents to effectively stimulate their child's speech and language development in goal-driven activites and in everyday interactions.  


  • Build early communication skills in the home environment
  • Parents use a variety of interaction techniques
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These fun activities use everyday materials and delineate specific interaction techniques so parents learn to:  

  • establish eye contact
  • follow the child's lead
  • provide choices for the child
  • take turns with the child
  • imitate the child
  • label and describe the environment
  • ask open-ended questions
  • share books together
  • expand on what the child says

The units of the book progress in developmental order.  Each activity contains a purpose statement, a list of required materials, instructions, ideas about how to vary the activity to make it more challenging, and interaction guidelines for parents.  The units are:

Early Communication Activities are for the preverbal child or the child who speaks in one-word utterances.   Activities such as "up" games, block play, mirror play, water play, photo album, and playground trip develop a desire to communicate, establish turn-taking routines, and reinforce emerging vocabulary.

Later Communication Activities are for the child who is beginning to combine words into sentences.  Activities like Finger Painting, Hide and Seek, Dog Play, and Nature Walk help the child connect ideas, explore abstract concepts, and use more advanced sentence structures.

Book Activities springboard from popular children's books and rhymes such as Old Macdonald, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Brown Bear, Three Little Kittens, and more.  Children develop phonemic and phonologic awareness, vocabulary, sequencing, and early literacy. 

These extra helps save you time and add flexibility and interest to the activities:

  • illustrations of manual signs
  • reproducible vocabulary cards  
  • activity log
  • home program form
  • parent letter

Copyright © 1998

191 pages
  • ASHA (2008) recommends that speech-language pathologists (SLPs) provide information on communication-enhancing strategies to caregivers in order for carryover of targeted skills to occur in everyday routines.
  • Early intervention government mandates require intervention in a natural environment with parent education on ways to implement targeted therapy skills throughout the child's daily activities (IDEA, 2004).
  • Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) should be included in a comprehensive early intervention program to allow young children functional communication with a variety of individuals.  AAC can take on a variety of forms, including gestures, sign, symbols, or speech-output devices (Romski & Sevcik, 2005).
  • Preschool children showed higher rates of print awareness during shared book reading with parents after direct intervention by an SLP on ways to engage children during literacy activities (Justice, Weber, Ezell, & Bakeman, 2002).

Take Home Preschool Language Development incorporates these principles and is also based on expert professional practice.


American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). (2008). Roles and responsibilities of speech-language pathologists in early intervention [Guidelines]. Retrieved July 24, 2009, from

Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). (2004). Retrieved July 27, 2009, from

Justice, L.M., Weber, S.E., Ezell, H.K., & Bakeman, R. (2002). A sequential analysis of children's responsiveness to parental print references during shared book-reading interactions. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 11, 30-40.

Romski, M., & Sevcik, R.A., (2005). Augmentative communication and early intervention: Myths and realities. Infants & Young Children, 18(3), 174-185.


Martha Drake


Martha Drake, M.A., CCC-SLP, is a 1976 graduate of the University of Iowa.  She works as a speech-language pathologist in the outpatient clinic at Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo, Colorado.  Martha is a certified instructor of the Hanen Parent Program.  She coordinates the Scottish Rite Foundation funding program.

Take Home Preschool Language Development is Martha's first publication with LinguiSystems.


Take Home Preschool Language Development is designed to give parents fun activities and interaction techniques that will help their children acquire early communication skills.  The activities can be used with children aged one to five years with a speech and/or a language delay.  Manual signs have been included to be used not only with children with hearing impairments but also with children who have autism or Down syndrome.  Research indicates that signs are motorically easier to learn than speech and provide a link to verbal communication.  Pictures have been included to use in matching or book-making activities or any other general language activities.

Parent activities with young children must occur in natural environments to be successful (Norris and Hoffman, 1990).  Flashcards, worksheets, and drills are not successful at this age or level of language development.  This manual focuses on games, songs, and books that are fun for both parents and children.

Encourage parents to use a variety of interaction techniques in every activity.  Only a few suggestions are given at a time so as not to overwhelm the parents.  The suggestions are repeated throughout the book and worded in different ways.  A suggestion may click when it is said often enough or worded in a way that makes sense to a parent.  The following interaction techniques for parents are targeted in this manual:

  • Establish eye contact with your child.
  • Sit at your child's level.
  • Follow your child's lead.
  • Provide choices for your child.
  • Take turns with your child.
  • Imitate what your child says and does.
  • Wait expectantly for your child to respond.
  • Interpret your child's nonverbal actions and speech attempts.
  • Be childlike and animated.
  • Label and describe things in the environment.
  • Limit your use of questions and commands.
  • Provide opportunities for your child to communicate.
  • Ask open-ended questions.
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat.
  • Be one step ahead of your child.
  • Expand on what your child says and does.
  • Be a good speech model.
  • Share books together.

In this day of limited insurance coverage and demands for documented progress, professionals need to enlist the help of parents.  We truly need to be partners with parents in the therapeutic process.  The purpose of Take Home Preschool Language Development is to give parents fun activities and interaction guidelines that will enhance their child's speech and language development at home.  It is not designed to replace direct therapy or to be a cookbook.  Parents and speech-language pathologists are encouraged to modify activities to meet individual needs and develop their own interaction styles.  The underlying intent of all home programs is to empower parents by giving them the resources to work with their children effectively.

Other Uses of the Program
Take Home Preschool Language Development can be used in a variety of ways.  Although the activities were designed for parents, they are also fun, engaging activities to use in therapy with young children.  I have used these activities in individual therapy, group therapy, and parent education groups.  A fun thing to do is to ask each parent in a group to pick an activity that interests her, then share her child's response during the following meeting.  This technique stimulates a dynamic group discussion.  The parents can then swap activities.

Creating fun, goal-oriented activities for the young speech-and-language-delayed child is not an easy task.  This manual is designed as a starting point.  Keep notes on successful variations that you, your co-workers, and parents have tried.  Over the years, this manual with your notes will become an invaluable resource for you and the parents of your children.