Speech sounds are the sounds we make, using our mouth, to form words. To make sounds the brain needs an idea to communicate, then it send the idea to the mouth telling it which words to say and the sounds to make. This includes signals to the muscles that control the tongue, lips and jaw.
- Children can present with errors including:
- ‘r’ said as “w” so ‘red’ is “wed”.
- ‘ch’ may be said as “t”, ‘j’ may be said as “d” and ‘sh’ may be said as “s”.
- ‘l’ may be said as “y”.
- Words with two consonant together like ‘sp’ in ‘spider’ or ‘bl’ in ‘black’ they can be reduced to one sound so “pider” or “back”.
- ‘th’ may be said as “f” in words like ‘thumb’ and “d” in words like ‘there’.
- Longer words with three or more syllables may be difficult to produce like ‘helicopter’.
- Children should be able to identify simple rhyming words like ‘cat’ and ‘hat’.
- Children are developing an awareness of syllables and can break words down like ‘flow _er’ or ‘ra_bbit’.
You can help by:
- Let your child have the opportunity to mix and play with children of their own age. This way they will get to hear the speech of other children and will gain confidence.
- Listening to what the child is saying rather than how he is saying it. Remember that all children make pronunciation errors when learning to talk.
- Modelling back the correct word if a child uses the wrong sounds. Do not ask the child to repeat the word over and over; he is unlikely to be able to correct it. Even if he can, it is unlikely that he will be able to carry this across to the next time he uses the word
- Repeat new or tricky words lots of times for the child so they can hear the sounds used.
- Acknowledge when you cannot understand & encourage the child to tell you again, maybe in a different way, or show you if possible. Never pretend you have understood.