So, you’ve just started speech therapy to work on your child’s speech sound errors. Congratulations for taking the first step! As a parent, it can feel daunting when first commencing speech therapy, and you will most likely have many questions circling your mind like: “How long will therapy take? “How will my child respond?” And perhaps the question we get asked the most: “How can I help my child to develop their speech sounds at home?”
The good news is that if you have chosen A Growing Understanding to help guide you are your child through your speech pathology journey, you will gain an understanding of your role in the speech therapy process, and develop the skills to support your child and get the most out of speech sound practice at home.
Working with Parents
At A Growing Understanding, we recognise that you know your child best. You are the one who spends the most time with your child which makes you the perfect person to work with them on their speech sounds. This may sound a little daunting – after all, you are a not a speech pathologist. But working directly with parents and providing you with the knowledge and skills to help your children is one of our core values. If we can arm you with the skills and knowledge to help your child practice their speech sounds in a variety of settings, your child will be better equipped to reach their goals and become confident communicators. But like all good things, this does take work.
Speech Sound Practice
Working on speech sounds with children has the potential to be, well, let’s face it, a little boring. It requires extensive drills, repetition and conscious thinking for a child to change their speech sound habits. This is NOT something that children are generally motivated to do without a fun, exciting incentive (insider Tip – this is why A Growing Understanding clinics have a huge cupboards full of toys and games).
Injecting fun into anything that is repetitive and challenging really is the key to ensuring engagement and continued effort. Your speech pathologist will provide you with some fun, engaging and interesting activities to work on outside of the therapy setting, and there are also many things you can do to maximise your child’s speech sound practice at home, including the following ideas.
Pick a Fun Game to Play
Incorporating a game as part of speech sound practice makes the process so much more enjoyable. Children want nothing more than to spend time with their parents and speech sound practice provides that opportunity! Have your child pick their favourite game or activity and before they take their turn, have them practice their target sound or word.
Before you know it, speech sound practice will be finished and your child will LOVE that they got to spend some quality time with you! If you’re running low on games or need some fresh ideas, visit your local library for game swapping options or check out our Facebook posts for game suggestions.
Face to Face Fun
For your child to change their speech sound production, they need to see and hear a clear speech model. That’s where YOU come in! Make sure you are face to face with your child so that they can see your mouth and hear your sounds.
Repetition is Key
Did you know that for your child to change their speech sound habits, they need to practice their target sound at least 120 times each practice? We understand that it sounds like a lot, so here are some extra tips for hitting that magic number each time you practice:
- The ‘HIGH-5 RULE’: Each time your child says their sound/word, have them say it FIVE times instead of one time. This means that instead of 120 turns, your child will only need to have 24 turns.
- Divide and Conquer: Divide your practice into two ‘mini sessions’ – once in the morning and once at night. Or one practice with you and one with another parent or older sibling. This means that your child would only have to have 12 turns each practice instead of 24 turns.
Know Your Child’s Current Goal
There are many small steps to take when it comes to learning a new speech sound. We start by teaching the sound on its own, then in small words, then in sentences, then during story telling and finally during general conversation. Each step up the ladder is an increase in difficulty, for example producing an ‘s’ sound by itself is an easier skill than producing it clearly when having an interesting and exciting conversation.
For this reason, make sure you know what step on the ladder your child is up to. If you are only focusing on producing the sound in single words, you won’t need to focus on listening to your child when they are chatting away in general conversation. Your speech pathologist will give you a clear guide as to what level your child is working on for that week so that you can maximise your speech sound practice and accurately gauge your child’s progress.
Keep A Tally
During your child’s home practice sessions, keep count of the number of sounds/words they produce correctly. This information will be very helpful your speech pathologist, and provides opportunities to map your child’s progress and celebrate their achievements (another way to inject fun).
Make Practice Part of the Daily Routine
Schedule speech sound practice for most days of the week. Even as an adult learning a new skill, we need opportunities for regular practice. Children are just the same. A little practice each day is going to be more effective than a longer practice on just one day of the week. Try linking your speech sound practice with another activity, e.g. before you brush your teeth, straight after morning tea or before bedtime stories.
Talk About Your Progress
One of the most important things to remember during your speech pathology journey is that your speech pathologist is here to help you and your child. If you are trying to get the most out of your child’s speech sound practise, but are finding that their progress is still slow, talk with your speech pathologist at your next session, or give us a call. Together we can work with you to put together a plan to get your child’s progress back on track.