How (and Why) to Have Family Devotions with Your Speech-Delayed Children - Under God's Mighty Hand

Talking Together – Family Devotions with Speech-Delayed Children {Plus a Giveaway!}

Many of you who have read here before know that my son doesn’t talk. He verbalizes approximations and his exuberant social skills help him make his needs and emotions known, but sign language is his main mode of communication.

How (and Why) to Have Family Devotions with Your Speech-Delayed Children - Under God's Mighty Hand

When I hear of families enjoying devotions together at mealtimes and bedtimes, I hear of quality conversations occurring. Questions from their five-year-olds that astound parents, sweet memories discussed, and growth developing.

My son can’t exactly do that, yet.

Our situation leads to the question: should we still attempt family devotions?

Hopefully your instant reaction is the same as mine: Yes. But, why? What “good” can it do if he can’t discuss? And how?

Why Have Family Devotions With Your Speech-Delayed Child

  • Anything positive where we include speech-delayed children helps boost confidence in their own communication skills and worth.
  • The more they (or any of us, really) hear God’s Word, the deeper those truths permeate.
  • As we model typical conversation, our children pick up on the small nuances of discussion.
  • More discussion provides more opportunities for communication practice (through speech or sign or other modes of communication).

Strategies for Including Speech-Delayed Children in Family Devotions

  • Ask appropriate questions for your child’s speech level. “Yes” or “no” questions help if your child can distinguish correct answers, yet hasn’t developed the communication abilities needed to provide lengthy answers.
  • Help your child recall events. If you’re asking about events from the day, give small hints as to where you went or who you saw. Using several question words (who, what, when, where) might help your child narrow down how to respond. (This currently helps my son, whose memory works well, but seems to have a hard time picking what detail to “verbally” recall sometimes.)
  • Give opportunities for your child to practice skills. While my son cannot talk, he loves anything to do with letters and reading. He currently has about 75 sight words he has memorized and can sign when he reads them. When we come across a word he knows in our reading, he gets to read it.
  • Give your child a turn anyway. Sometimes my son just wants to be a part of the conversation. Everyone else at the table might have said something, and he just wants to talk. So, he gets a turn, too, using his own “babble” to say whatever he wants to say. (And we love it!)

A Review and Giveaway

I recently had to the opportunity to take a look at Adventures in Odyssey’s Whit’s End Mealtime Devotions, written by Tricia Goyer, Crystal Bowman, and John Avery Whittaker.

Each page of this family devotional includes a mealtime-themed devotion. The devotions begin with a short “mealtime prayer,” then include an “appetizer” with questions to get families talking and bonding, a “main course” with faith-focused discussions or activities, “table talk” questions, and end with “vitamins and minerals” (Scripture) to read together. Whit's End Mealtime Devotions by Tricia Goyer

While many of the discussion questions offered will be easier for children with verbal abilities to participate in, these family devotions also include activities to complete as a family. Many of these activities have hands-on components, like a darkness/light comparison blindfold activity from the “150 Watts” devotion to spur discussions on God as light. I love that the book includes specific devotions for holidays, birthdays, and other special events.

Especially geared for kids ages 4 or so through about age 12, Whit’s End Mealtime Devotions provide fun, applicable ways to develop faith-based family conversations.

See the table of contents and few first devotions here.

The publisher, Tyndale, is kindly offering one copy of Whit’s End Mealtime Devotions to one of you! Enter through the Rafflecopter widget below! (If you’re an email subscriber, please click through to the post to enter the giveaway.) (Please note: This giveaway is open to US residents only {sorry!}. This giveaway is open from Tuesday, April 9th through 11:59pm EST on Sunday, April 14th, 2013.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms of giveaway: This giveaway is open to US residents only and will end at the end of the day April 14, 2013. All entrants must be 18 years old or older. Enter through the Rafflecopter widget above. Incomplete entries will be deleted. Once a winner is selected, I will contact them via email. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, I will select another winner.

How do you include your children (of all abilities) in family devotions?

Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. 

13 thoughts on “Talking Together – Family Devotions with Speech-Delayed Children {Plus a Giveaway!}

  1. LindseyBell

    We try to read from a kid’s Bible every night before bed. I would like to do more, so I think this mealtime devo would be a great way to start:)

    1. Caroline @UnderGod'sMightyHand

      We read before bed, too, Lindsey! In fact, my son has learned all the signs for “Jesus Storybook Bible” because that’s his favorite kids’ bible to read right now. I’m also hoping to add more at mealtimes, so I’m glad for this devotion from Tricia, too!

  2. Jennifer Cook

    As a speech therapist (and mom)…I love this post! You absolutely want to include your speech delayed child in ALL communication. They often understand more than they can say. Understanding language precedes expressing language. Praise God that we are all unique and he speaks to our hearts…young and old alike!

    1. Caroline @UnderGod'sMightyHand

      Thanks so much for commenting, Jennifer! I totally agree with you about understanding before expression. My son absolutely understands wayyy more than he can express… and most likely more than we even realize.

      Since you’re a speech therapist, I’d love to know if you have other thoughts. Do you have any specific tips or ideas you’d add to this list?

  3. ticiaM

    We use different types of devotionals, in a little bit we will be acting out the story of Jacob and Esau (as soon as I finish making the props).

  4. Patty

    My 8 year old (speech delayed) used to bring me my bible at a year old and climb in my lap and listen to me read. We have continued to do so. I read from a devotional and a child’s Bible, and at night my husband reads aloud from this Bible. The 8 year old occasionally answers questions and when he does, his answers are more insightful then we expect! God’s word does not return void.

  5. Suzy

    Having no personal experience with speech delays, I’ve never really given it much thought but I suppose I always assumed with any developmental delay that as parents we should continue to model the ideal as best we could. I really loved your point about giving them a turn to talk, even if its babble. I can only imagine how good that must make them feel.
    I found your blog from Preschool and Kindergarten Community link up.

  6. Amy H

    As Mormons, we have Family Home Evenings which include a lesson, something enjoyable (such as a game or video), and usually a snack or treat. Everyone has an opportunity to discuss their thoughts about the lesson. Sometimes the 4-year-old is way off on an unrelated tangent, sometimes my 6 year old is really self-conscious and nervous, and nearly every time, my 8 year old stutters. But the key is being patient and realizing that their participation helps them understand. Knowing what they think helps us gauge how much they have learned. And, besides, the main point of FHE is being together as a family, as God wants us to be, learning about His plan for us on earth. I think that it’s not enough for us all to be sitting there; we need to all participate (with the exception of my 4 month old, that is–although she sometimes puts her two cents in as well

  7. Pingback: What Works for Me: Teaching Kids about Jesus - Lindsey Bell

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