Helping Your Kids with Enunciation
Ask the Speech Pathologist: Answered by Jennifer Pollock, MA, CCC-SLP of Kids at Koke Mill Medical Center
Question: Our kindergartener has difficulty enunciating different words. What consonants do most children this age struggle with? What tips do you have at home for things we can work on?
Our teacher at school is referring her to speech therapy at school, and we would like some additional tips of what we can do at home to help. Tips for how to make this sort of learning fun would be great
Answer: I tend to see children with /s, l, r/ problems once they are school-aged.
Typically, /k, g/ should be mastered by age 3 ½ to 4 , /r, l/ should be mastered between 5-6 yrs old, /s/ by 6-7, and the (s) blends "stop, spy, snake, etc" mastered by 3 ½ to 4. That said, if they are sticking their tongue out in a "lisp" pattern, it's helpful to get them in speech therapy by age 3 1/2-4. It's a bad habit that is tough to break. School therapy is a nice start, but keep in mind that it tends to be in groups and not all children are working on the same sound. Most of our school-aged kids get school and hospital therapy, as we can offer 1-on-1 contact. Also, State guidelines prevent therapists from addressing /r/ until 2nd grade, when it can be affecting reading and writing.
I teach kids that the tongue is a horse, and teeth a fence, and you have to keep the horse behind the fence. Mirror work and videotaping are good for giving that visual, and verbal cues from family and teachers are also good. At that age, they can self monitor, and it really takes the child breaking the bad habit of the tongue coming out.
I do NOT recommend using VALVED SIPPY CUPS, it puts their tongue in front of their teeth in order to get that powerful sucking motion to drink, which is no different than using a bottle. I know these are handy to keep from spilling on the couch or in the car, but it is best to buy either non-valved, lidded cups or the kind with pop-up straws for travel, and use regular cups at the table. Your dentist and your speech therapist will thank you!
Jennifer Pollock is a Springfield native (proud northender) and received her Bachelor's degree in Communication Disorders and Psychology from St. Louis University and her Masters in 1997.
She is a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Member of Central IL Speech Pathology Association, Certified as a Lactation Counselor (Breastfeeding) and specializes in infant feeding/swallowing, Breastfeeding education and support, articulation/phonological disorders, child language, and Apraxia of speech.
She is married to Ian and is mother to Sam and Sophie. She is also involved in support groups for women with infertility issues. She can be reached at Koke Mill Medical Center 3132 Old Jacksonville Rd., Springfield or by calling 217- 862-0400. Email:email@example.com
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