How to use fingers to help children learn speech and language

Your fingers can be powerful tools to help your child develop speech and language. Here are three ideas that have been helpful to me in my speech and language therapy practice. I hope you find them useful too.

Finger indication

The finger signals will help your child observe the movement of his lips and tongue to see how sounds are made. Gently touch your lip with your index finger while saying words to your child. For short words, tap once for each sound. For longer words, tap once for each syllable.

Finger stimulation

Finger pacing will help your child: 1. Collect more words and 2. Understand more of what you are saying. As you speak, lift one finger at a time for each word you say. This helps your child see how to put words together and see that their sentences are made up of separate words. The more you do this, the easier it will be.

To beat the rhythm with your fingers and give signals at the same time, use repetition. Say a single word first with finger prompts, and then say the word in one sentence with finger rhythm or vice versa. Either way, the more you repeat, the more your child will learn.


Expanding helps your child put more words together. When your child says only one word, respond to two words. For example, if your child says “ball,” say “red ball,” “my ball,” “missing ball,” whatever fits. When your child says two words, answer three, and so on. To make this more powerful, use the rhythm of your fingers as you repeat the words.

Hope these ideas help. You will be amazed at what your fingers can do!

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