Happy January and Happy New Year! I wanted to give some suggestions to parents and other colleagues on ways to encourage our students and kiddos to use accurate speech sounds at home!
When students are learning a new speech pattern and working on specific sounds, it is paramount that they are exposed to reminders and good examples outside of therapy time. Learning a new speech pattern is hard! You are essentially re-wiring a neurological and physiological pathway that was developed incorrectly. It’s hard work! Be sure and praise your students over-the-top for accurate productions. The more team members a student has in their life to remind and promote clear speech, the more likely they are to have some real success!
I like to send home homework occasionally with my students not only for them to continue their practicing, but also to expose parents to what we are working on! Once kids know that they have to be accountable at school/therapy AND at home, it may help to encourage them to remember their sounds. It’s a whole team approach!
Here are some great ways to encourage those sounds at home! The more exposure and practice they have for these sounds, the greater the chance we have of making a difference!
- Keep your children in conversations! The more they say, the more opportunities you have to help them with their sounds. As you hear sounds, pick a few to stop and ask them to repeat. You can even show them what the sound is supposed to sound and look like with your mouth!
- Don’t correct EVERY time. Students will become discouraged from sharing, and you will become overwhelmed with catching every error.
- Use vocabulary or sight word flashcards at home—work on reading (if your child is of reading age) and speech sounds at the same time! Double bonus.
- Does your child have an academic speech or presentation coming up? Have them present it to you for practice and listen for those sounds! You could record it and have them listen to it. Do they notice their own errors?
- Prep your kiddos before they speak that you’re listening for great sounds. Heighten their awareness that others around them are going to start expecting them to use correct sounds.
- Have your child practice their sound in isolation (by itself) before coming up with words. Example, have them say the /k/ sound outloud correctly 5-10 times before asking them to say words that start with /k/. It will warm up their muscles and remind them what’s expected!
- Teach your child to pay attention to the listener. Did the listener understand what you just said? Do they look confused? Should you repeat what you said louder, slower, or more clear?
- Do not ask your child to repeat themselves to the point of frustration—they might shut down and you’ll lose the opportunities to help them with their speech. Pick your battles (and your sounds) with your child. We want them to look forward to improve their speech, not dread it!
- Place a few speech words on mirrors or the refrigerator and have them practice them first thing in the morning and right before bed. Should take only 5 minutes or so!
- Have kiddos practice their speech sounds at the same time as their homework. Make them feel like it’s a routine part of their day.
- Riding the car on the way to practice? Have your child name as many words that have their speech sound in it and make it a game! See if they can think of more each time.
- Play board games with your kids and have them say a word with their speech sound in it before each turn.
- Give loads of praise when they say their sounds correctly—everyone loves to be encouraged and praised for hard work!
- Remember that these kids are not “lazy” about their sounds. Your tongue is a muscle! Changing the way you speak is one of the hardest things to do. Keep encouraging!
- Are your kids into their iPhones or iPad? No problem! Trick them into “working” on their device by playing some of these interactive articulation apps!
Remember… it’s a process! And we have to start at the beginning!
If you have any questions about practicing your child’s speech sounds at home, reach out! Or if you’re looking for additional homework or speech websites, check out my website for resources!