If your child receives therapy for their articulation or phonological skills (i.e. how they produce specific sounds), intervention focuses on repeated practice of the target sounds at different levels. Your therapist structures the session to be highly motivating and engaging for your child so that they are motivated to participate in the repetitive nature of the task. Additionally, your therapist most likely assigns homework to work on in between sessions to help with generalization of your child’s articulation skills—but here’s where the challenge lies! Most kiddos are reluctant to practice their ‘speech homework’ outside of therapy because it is challenging and because it is not the most exciting work. However, daily practice of articulation skills is necessary for both acquisition and maintenance of these age-appropriate articulation skills. Here are a few tips and activities to encourage your child’s home practice:
- Choose the same time each day to practice—on the way to school, after dinner, right before bed, etc. Creating a routine makes it easier to incorporate practice into daily life.
- Set attainable goals—45 minutes of articulation practice per day is not going to fit into your daily routine, and it doesn’t have to! 10 to 15 minutes of directed practice per day is all you need to ensure that your child does not lose the progress that he/she has made in therapy.
- Provide the correct cues for target sounds—Your therapist will create articulation goals based on your child’s current level of functioning. Talk with your therapist to determine if your child is working on targets at the syllable/word/phrase/sentence level and support their production of target sounds at that level.
- Make practice fun! – Articulation homework does not have to be ‘drill’ work; you can use your child’s speech targets in a variety of fun activities, such as:
- Sound scavenger hunt
- Cut out pictures of your child’s target sounds and hide them around the house. Go on a scavenger hunt to find the missing words!
- Try to find objects that start with the target sound while in the car, on a walk, looking through books, etc.
- Adapt age-appropriate crafts
- Making a spider for Halloween? Cut out 8 target words/pictures and attach to the spider’s legs
- Winter crafts? Make a penguin out of an old Kleenex box and ‘feed’ it your target words
- Jewelry? Put one bead on each target word and practice the word before adding the bead to your bracelet/necklace
- Snack time!
- Cover target words/pictures with one piece of a favored snack (cheerios, popcorn, fruit loops, nuts, raisins, cheddar bunnies, etc.); practice each word 3 times before eating the snack
- Say target words for X-number of dots per page
- Sound scavenger hunt
**Remember to consult your speech-language pathologist to make sure you are providing the appropriate level of prompting for your child’s goals