Speech is Tricky!
Speech is Tricky!
Fun Ideas for Home Practice
by Kira Fazzari, M.A. CCC-SLP
Producing speech sounds is a complex process! When we speak, our brain coordinates up to 100 muscles in our lips, tongue, cheeks, throat, and jaw, and uses them in cooperation with other parts of our
mouth to make speech sounds. No wonder learning speech sounds can be hard!
When a child’s brain has memorized an incorrect pattern to produce a specific sound, it can be tricky to break the habit and retrain the brain. During speech therapy, the correct way to produce each speech sound is taught, but in order for the brain to truly memorize the new motor pattern, lots of practice and repetitions must occur, including outside of the speech room.
Progress is made much more quickly when practice occurs at home, even if you only practice for 5 minutes a day! Research is actually showing that shorter, more frequent sessions are more effective for
learning and retention as compared to less frequent, longer practice sessions.
During each short practice session with your child, aim to have them practice their skill as many times correctly as possible, as repetition is the key to success and long-term generalization of the skill.
While memorizing a new way to produce a sound might be tricky, finding ways to make practice at home fun and effective doesn’t have to be hard. The following is a list of easy and fun ways to motivate kids to practice their speech:
Sticky Hand Toy
Use a stretchy sticky hand toy to allow kids to ‘capture’ a small paper with a word containing their target sound. After the sticky hand grabs the paper, have your child say their word 5-10 times and then repeat.
Use one word and paper or cut out several!
Poppers are one of the easiest ways to elicit a lot of repetitions out of your child and they come in many designs and sizes. For each bubble your child presses, have them say their target sound or word.
You blow bubbles and your child says a word while popping each bubble. For a variation, blow bubbles for every 5 or 10 repetitions that your child does.
Pool or Bathtime Fun
Write words with your target sound on diving sticks or other items that sink and have your child say them as they find them.
Your child can play bowling with a toy bowling set or anything you can stand up and knock down with a ball (empty cracker or cereal boxes, toy figures, books, etc.). Have your child say their target sound in a
word the number of times matching the pins that weren’t knocked over.
Throw a ball
Throw a ball back and forth and play catch. Your child can practice their word before each time they throw the ball.
This is a fun one for little ones who enjoy being tickled. Start with your hand on your child’s head or toes and for each repetition of their word or sound, move slightly closer to their belly. When you get to their belly, tickle them like crazy! Start over and repeat until the 5 minute practice session is over.
Build a Tower with Blocks
Each time your child says their sound or word correctly, give them a block to stack, creating a tower.
When the tower eventually falls, take the blocks back and start over. See how tall the tower can grow before it falls and try to beat your record!
Moving Beans/Marbles/Mini Objects
Place objects in a small container and get a second similar container. For each repetition, let your child move one bean or small object to the other container. When all of the objects are moved, you are done!
In the Car – Stop Light Speech
When sitting at a red stoplight, see how many times your child can say a word with their sound in it correctly before the light turns green.
Provide your child with a puzzle piece for every 5 or 10 repetitions of a word with their sound, and they can build the puzzle as they go. This can be done with legos as well!