If your child is working on speech sounds that they haven’t quite developed yet and your speech therapist hands you some target words that you should practice, it may seem daunting to practice these words with your child. It doesn’t have to be! Practicing speech sounds can be fun!
Three things to keep in mind before you begin:
The sound should be practiced in the way the speech therapist suggested.
If it is supposed to be at the beginning of the word, then only practice it in that position.
The therapist will tell you to whether to practice the sound at either a word level, in a phrase like “I see…”, or in a whole sentence.
Don’t correct the sound all the time. Modeling the correct production in your own speech is a powerful way for the child to learn. If you child says, “I see the little tat”, you can say back, “Oh it is such a little cat.” emphasizing the correct production, but not asking them to say it back.
The goal is to help your child feel good about his/her speech and to practice the skills that they learned with the speech therapist while at home.
Tips on how to keep your child motivated to practice
Ask for a second set of cards or photocopy the ones you have and play Go Fish or a matching game. Have your child say the target word each time they turn over a card in the way the speech therapist suggested.
Hide the cards around the room and play Hot and Cold until they find them all; you tell them they are hot if they are close to the card and cold if they are far away. Don’t forget to use variations in between as well. For example, “you are getting warmer… oh you are getting really hot…”
Play a board or a card game and have your child say their target words before his/her turn.
Go on a nature walk and try and find words that begin with their target sound.
Collect some beads and make a bracelet or necklace adding a bead after each target word is practiced.
Incorporate the cards into anything your child loves to do…if they love toy cars, have them drive the cars to each target word placed/taped on the floor.
Always praise your child’s attempts at producing their sound. If they don’t get it quite right, tell them it was a great try and if they make the sound accurately, tell them so! They need to know what the correct production sounds and feels like. You could say, “Great job, you made that ____ sound so nicely” or “Wow! I heard you use your ___ sound”!