There are various factors I consider when choosing which sounds to focus on first in speech therapy. Is the sound in the child’s own name? Is it an earlier developing sound? Is it a high frequency sound? Can the child make the sound with assistance?
One English sound magically stands out as worthy of training with all children. This MAGIC SOUND is the “s” sound, typically emerging at 3 years old and mastered by most 5 year olds.
When a child can pronounce a clear “s” sound, he can provide more information. The “s” will indicate plurals (socks), possessives (Wyatt’s toy), and the present verb tense (she eats). And, as one of the most frequent English sounds, clear pronunciation of the “s” will improve overall intelligibility.
Five fun ways to help your child practice the “s” sound:
- Play “I Spy” – This game can be played anywhere and adjusted to your child’s level. Spy objects by color, size, function or first sound. Model a sharp “s” sound when you “Spy”.
- Sing with your child – Songs contain predictable lyrics and an opportunity for repetition of familiar phrases. Some easy songs with the “s” sound are: “itsy bitsy spider”, “twinkle twinkle little star” and “wheels on the bus”.
- Sort laundry together – Sorting clothes provides opportunities to use “s” at the ends of words as a plural marker. “Socks go here, shirts go there, pants over here”.
- Count – Any objects if the word ends with either a “p, t, k” sound will have an “s” sound at the end when you make it plural (as opposed to some other words that have more of a “z” sound). Count cups and forks when you set the table. Count socks as you put away clean clothes. Count all the cats your child has met.
- Pretend play – Feed toy animals. Talk about what each animal eats. “The horse eats hay, the cow eats grass.”
Are you wondering if your child’s speech sound development is on target for his age? A speech assessment is recommended if…
- Your child’s teacher has suggested a speech assessment.
- Other adults have trouble understanding your child.
- Your child is sometimes left out because her peers don’t understand her.
- Your child distorts speech sounds, such as with a lisp.
- Your child has become self-conscious about talking.