11 Exercises to Help Children with Language Difficulties

Reading can be a good way to help children with language problems. This creative procedure will help them expand their vocabulary and syntactic structures.
11 Exercises to Help Children with Language Difficulties

Last update: 15 August, 2022

Children with language difficulties should receive help from a professional and from their parents. It’s one of the best ways to develop and improve over time.

“There’s that little boy, crying in the classroom because his classmates are making fun of his the way he talks. They laugh because he can’t pronounce words like car, railroad, or road. Thus, he feels guilt for something he shouldn’t feel guilty about: being a child who has trouble pronouncing a word or two well.”

Don’t let this happen to a child close to you. Read these tips and help them correct a problem that’s so common in childhood. A language delay doesn’t necessarily mean a problem in other areas of child development.

Exercises that can help children with language difficulties

Just because a child has trouble speaking it doesn’t mean they’re intellectually slow or incapable. Moreover, it’s likely that such speech problems occur only in childhood.

Believe it or not, teens and adults with excellent speech may have had speech disorders as children. It didn’t keep them from developing and having a completely normal adulthood.

1. Cards

Language Difficulties

First of all, cards which refer to sounds can really help children to learn to pronounce each syllable correctly. The best way of doing this is to turn this exercise into a game and reward the child when they pronounce each sound right.

2. Mirror exercises

Next, mirror exercises are useful for children who have problems pronouncing words and sounds. The mirror helps them see the right way to move their mouth and make the sounds.

3. Respiratory exercises

These aim to stimulate the child by helping them become aware of the type of breathing involved in the act of speaking. They also stimulate the respiratory cycle in nasal-buccal, buccal-buccal phonation. The child can practiced them daily but let them stop at the first sign of fatigue. This is the procedure:

  • Firstly, breathe in and out through the mouth
  • Breathe in and out through the nose
  • Then, breathe in through the nose and into the abdomen and out through the mouth
  • Breathe in through the nose toward the upper rib cage and out through the mouth
  • Breathe in deeply with retention and exhale through the nose
  • Then, breathe in through the nose in three breaths and out through the mouth in one breath
  • Breathing in one breath and breathing out in three breaths

These exercises include blowing by inflating the cheeks and expelling the air, blowing into the hands, blowing by directing the air into the nose. Then, blowing into the chest, blowing up balloons, blowing paper or cotton balls on a table. Or, blowing into air instruments.

4. Lip exercises

The following is a list of actions to do with the lips:

  • Open and close the mouth in a yawning motion
  • Move the lips to both sides, right and left
  • Smile with the mouth open and smile with the mouth closed
  • Whistling
  • Throwing kisses in the air
  • Place a pencil between the upper lip and the nose and prevent it from falling, like a moustache

5. Practicing articulatory movements

The tongue is fundamental in the development of language. These exercises will help the child become aware that they can move it and take it where they needs to:

  • Open the mouth and stick out the tongue forward, slowly, and then turn it back, also slowly.
  • Stick out the tongue and point it to the nose as close as possible. Then, do the same pointing to the chin.
  • Bring the tongue to the roof of the mouth and let the tip touch the upper teeth. You can complement this exercise by making the tongue run through the oral cavity. Then, touching all the teeth and molars.

6. Repetitions can help with language difficulties

Repeating words over and over is among the most effective exercises to help with speech problems. Each repetition must be slow for the child to be able to hear them and become aware of the phonemes.

7. Talk to the children

Talk to children

Parents and other family members should communicate frequently with children with a language delay. It promotes verbal communication and gives the child the opportunity to hear new words, learn them, and communicate.

8. Promoting speech and pronunciation

To promote speech in young children, give them what they ask for only if they say the right word. Do nothing if they resort only to hand gestures. It’s a way to motivate them to look for ways to use language to get what they want.

Likewise, in a relaxed environment, have at hand albums of family photographs, or picture books with images of the human body, pieces of clothing, and everyday objects. In short, encourage them to point out and name what they see. Alternatives include reciting numbers or vowels in sequence such as aeiou/aeiou/aeiou/aeiou as many times as they want.

Furthermore, encourage them to pronounce consonant strokes such as /ta/te/ti/to/tu; tra/tre/tri/tro/tro/tru; ka/ke/ki/ko/ku; etc. It’s important to review the articulatory points and breathing exercises in each case.

9. Listening exercises

Take them to a quiet room and produce sounds with different materials under some kind of disguise. This is so they can guess what they are. For this exercise, prepare various objects to make sounds. They don’t have to be musical instruments but, of course, wind, percussion, and string instruments can come in handy.

Think metal and wooden objects as well as stones or kitchen utensils and plastic things; anything that makes a sound. Get creative and explore any resources that can turn a room into a fun sound box.

10. Word games are good for language difficulties

Use songs, tongue twisters, proverbs, sayings, chants, and anything else you may know by heart. Also, songbooks and school books are great tools to work on memory, articulation and pronunciation.

You should know that singing reduces language problems in many cases. Thus, explore the potential of rhythm as a substantial element for language production. In fact, “Music therapy relies on sound as a means of nonverbal communication. It promotes any communication with a child through sound, rhythm, music and silence.”

Researcher Ximena Borja states, “singing can provide opportunities to explore the expressive power of verbal language.” Try it!

11. Reading


Reading is a good resource to enhance children’s language. This is because through it, they can develop a new vocabulary. At least, according to this study carried out by the Arauco Educational Foundation in Chile. Children learn to structure sentences better and to pronounce words that are more complicated for them when you read to them. For example, stories can help them stimulate creativity and imagination.

Diagnosing language difficulties

One of the greatest challenges faced by parents is identifying whether their children have language difficulties. Whether they need the support of a specialist. At least according to this study conducted by the Universidad Autónoma de México (UNAM). However, it’s important to emphasize that each child has their own variations in speech development.

Some of the situations that can help identify whether a child has language problems include:

  • A child hasn’t said a single word by the age of 18 months and doesn’t point at objects. Furthermore, they show no interest or intention to communicate.
  • Furthermore, an 18-month-old-child doesn’t understand simple instructions of a maximum of three words.
  • A child only repeats what they hear and you can’t understand what they say at the age of two.
  • Also, the child doesn’t form plurals or use pronouns by the age of three.
  • Finally, the child pronounces consonants incorrectly, makes nasal sounds, or doesn’t conjugate verbs when speaking by the age of four.

Recommendations for parents of children with language difficulties

First of all, parents should bear in mind that children learn language by imitation and by listening to the people around them. For this reason, it’s important to speak to them a lot. Do this with simple and clear language.

During breastfeeding, it’s important to dedicate time to verbal communication with children. Believe it or not, it’s the best time to start teaching them sign language and the imitation of sounds and gestures. Likewise, from the age of 6 months, the baby should be read to every day.

Similarly, from 6 months on, parents should read to their children daily.  Stories with images are ideal to stimulate vocabulary development.

Take advantage of bath time or changing their clothes to reinforce speaking and language. These are ideal situations to name objects, items of clothing and parts of the body.

Finally, parents and other people around the children shouldn’t laugh at their mistakes. Naturally, mocking them can cause significant psycho-emotional damage in children with language difficulties.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.