4 tips for speech sound practise

Practising a new speech sound can be difficult (and tedious) for children.  If you have a little one who is reluctant to practise here are 4 tips that may help.

1. Try and make practise part of your everyday routine

It does not matter when or where you practise as long as it fits in with your life.

You could;

  • set up a work space in the house and practise every day after tea or when you have put siblings to bed.

  • You could practise in the car on the way to school, when you take the dog for a walk

  • or even in the bath (flashcards can be laminated or put in sealed sandwich bags).

If you just can’t find a regular time that suits you and your family then you could throw your flashcards in your handbag and pull them out when you’re stuck in traffic or waiting in a line somewhere.

Keep practise short, sweet and frequent – little and often is better than long sessions a few times a week.

2. Make practice fun

Kids with speech sound difficulties often don’t want to work on sounds – because it’s something they find hard! (and who wants to practise something that they can’t do everyday!).  It also can be very repetitive and boring!   So to help them want to practise regularly – we need to try and make it fun

  • Play a game: like snakes and ladders, while you work.  You each have to practise your sound or words 3 times before taking a turn.   You could get the rest of the family involved if you like.

  • can be used to play snap, pairs or bingo.  You could hide their flashcards around the house to find or tape them on a wall, turn off the  lights and use flashlight to find and say them.

  • Use a toy or activity that has lots of pieces like a jigsaw, lego, pop up pirate or threading beads to make a necklace.  Your child needs to practise their sound (once or five times) to gain a piece they need for the game.

  • Role play: have your child be the teacher and show you how to say the sound and correct you when you “accidentally” get it wrong.

For some kids who can struggle to sit and focus something more physical is great.  You could:

  • Hold yoga poses while saying your sound – be silly with your practice, see who can hold the pose the longest or who can say the most sounds before they fall over

  • Shoot hoops, toss a ball or play skittles while taking turns to say their sound or word

3. Make it a positive experience

  • You could have a reward when you finish practise, again this should be whatever works for your family, it could be tv or ipad time, a sticker or their choice of game.  Or you could work towards a bigger reward like a new toy.

  • Give specific praise – even when their attempts are not exactly right, give praise for their effort e.g. “really good try”, “I love how you are taking your turn to say the sound”

  • End with something they are good at – if they are finding something difficult or getting frustrated, finish the practice with something you know they can do e.g. single sound or listening activity.

4. Be patient and try not to put pressure on your child. 

It is really important your child is able to talk to you without being corrected all the time.  Instead of correcting them if you hear a mistake, just model back to them the correct articulation and repeat the word on which the error occured.

For example, if your child says ‘look there is a tat’ you should respond ‘oh yes a CAT, that’s a pretty CAT isn’t it’.  Once your child is at the stage where they are generalising the sound into their everyday speech your therapist will advice you on how and when to correct them.

If you can practise at home regularly and effectively you will start to see changes in your child’s speech much quicker.

If at any stage your child is unwilling to practice please speak to your Speech Pathologist as they may be able to help you with reward charts and/or suggestions of games to play or ideas to  incorporate into your day to day routine.

Happy practising!!