Speech Sound Development

Model Back Good Speech

The best way to work on speech sound development is to model back good speech.  Modeling is a powerful way to help children become more aware of and learn how to say speech sounds.  Some parents are afraid to “correct” their child’s speech.  Modeling isn’t simply correction.  Modeling provides children with the information that they need to help speech sounds develop.

  • When your child says a word and “misses” a sound say the word back to them in a very positive way placing emphasis on the sound that they had problems with. Place emphasis by saying the sound a bit louder, longer, and by tapping your finger on the side of your mouth or using a hand gesture for the sound (if you are doing this).  If he said “The tat is nice” you could say “Yes, that is a nice cat .  I like cats.  I think the cat likes you.”  If you repeat the word several times you are adding power to the modeling.  Don’t repeat the sound more than once in the word though.  Don’t say “CCCat”.
  • Of course you would never want to correct your child in a way that would make him feel bad about how they are talking.  Saying “No that’s not the right sound.  Say it this way, say cat.”, can make your child feel bad about their talking especially if it is still hard for them to make the sound correctly.
  • Once your child has gotten fairly good at saying the sounds correctly, once they can do it right when they are focused or with just a bit of help, you can draw their attention to problem sounds a bit more by asking if they heard the right sound when they say a word.  If he tried to say “Car and it came out “caw”, you could say, “Hmmm, I didn’t hear the R sound, did you?  Try again please.”  Make sure to also point out and celebrate times when your child says sounds the right way.  Especially praise times when your child goes back and “fixes” sounds on his own.  This is a huge step!

If you are working on several sounds it is often best to focus on only one sound at a time.  You could let him know that this week you will be listening for the __ sound.  Putting the sound somewhere where everyone will see it, such as on the fridge, can be a good reminder.

Sometimes it is hard to know which sounds you should focus on.  Often it is good to focus on the speech sounds that develop earlier.  My Speech Sound Development Chart lets you know when sounds usually develop.  

Model back and ask for corrections as much as you can but remember to balance this with his frustration level and with being a good listener.

I hope this helps.  Let me know if you have any questions. You can reach me at SLP@Speech-TherapyAtHome.com.

Madison Garvi