How to make the most of articulation practice at home

Enrichment Therapies

March 10, 2020

Adult and child working on articulation techniques

By: Mallory Carr, M.A., CCC-SLP

Lots of children need a little help pronouncing certain speech sounds! Oral speech production is a very intricate and complicated process, and each sound occurs very quickly. With a little help from a speech-language pathologist and parents, speech sound errors can easily be worked on! 

Here is a quick overview of the process of how speech-language pathologists work on sounds. However, based on a child’s current skill level, it might not always be necessary to start at the very beginning. 

Isolation — Saying the target sound all by itself (e.g., “sssss”)

Syllable — Adding a vowel with the sound (e.g., “so”)

Word — Saying the sound in a word (e.g., “Soap)

Phrase — Putting the word into a short carrier phrase (e.g., “use the soap”)

Modeled sentence — The SLP (or parent!) says a sentence for the child to repeat (e.g., “I use soap when I wash my hands”)

Generated sentence — The child uses a target word in a sentence they make up 

Conversation — The SLP (or parent!) listens for the sound to determine if the child is producing it correctly when they are talking

Now, sounds occur in all positions of words. The above example looked at /s/ in the initial position of words. Often, children will have to work on sounds in all positions of words (e.g., medial: “dresser” final: “floss”).

Your speech-language pathologist will let you know which level and position the sound is being targeted at and give you some materials ( picture cards, word lists, sentences) to practice. The speech-language pathologist will also give you some helpful prompts you can use to help your child make the sounds when you’re practicing with them. Now you’re ready to practice at home! 

The great thing about articulation is that you can use almost ANYTHING into practice! Here are just a few ideas of what you can do at home. 

Play a game – Before your child takes a turn, have them say their sound 3 times

Matching – Ask your SLP for another copy of the picture cards, cut them up, and lay them out. Every time they get a match, have them say the word 3 times 

Hide and seek – Cut up cards and hide them around a room. When your child finds the card, say the word 3 times. This one also works great the other way! You can have your child hide them while you try to find them. 

Draw cards out of a hat – Cut up cards and draw them out! Say each word 3 times

Make a craft – Before your child gets a crayon/marker/glue/scissors, have them say their sound 3 times 

If you ever need more picture cards or ideas to make practice fun at home, just ask your child’s SLP.

Tips for practicing 

  • Be really positive! When they make their sound just right, reinforce the sound, not the letter (e.g., “That was such a great “sss” sound!” not, “That was a great “S”)
  • If they just can’t get a word, that’s okay! Move on to the next one, but reinforce their effort (e.g., “Great trying! You’re working so hard!”)
  • If they don’t get the target sound after 3-5 different tries, stop practicing and let your SLP know that you guys had a hard time with practice at home

Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center has locations in the Iowa City, IA area and Des Moines, IA area. We provide individual speech-language therapy and tutoring as well as offering small group academic programs.  At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center our passion is to help kids achieve effective communication skills and gain academic success.  Contact us for more information on how we can help your child succeed.

740 Community Drive, Unit A

North Liberty, IA 52317


5530 West Pkwy, Suite 300

Johnston, IA 50131



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