Welcome back to our series on how how to keep the ball rolling with your child’s articulation therapy. You can read the whole series here if you’d like to catch-up, although you’re of course welcome to jump with this post as well!
Practicing speech can, unfortunately, be viewed by some kiddos as an unwelcome chore. This happens for many different reasons, but one of the best solutions is to make practice a quick, easy, and fun part of your everyday routine. We’ll talk about another solution, motivators and incentives, in a couple of weeks, but for now, let’s focus on routines and fun.
I am going to go through a typical day with my boys at home (think weekends and school breaks) and highlight when I might work in a little bit of speech practice. I highly recommend getting yourself a package of index cards and a fresh sharpie (who doesn’t love new office supplies?!), as they’ll come in handy with nearly all of the suggestions below. My guys are 8 and almost-5, so many of these ideas will be geared toward the elementary crowd. I’ll make a note, though, when I think the idea is applicable to older kids as well. And, just as an FYI, I have worked on speech sounds with both of my kids at one time or another, so some of these are straight from the front lines.
- Breakfast – have 5-10 target words written on those index cards, punch a hole in the top corner of each one, and put them on a on binder ring. The cards and ring can live at the table, and can be flipped through either before, during, or after eating. This is quick, part of the routine, no fuss, no muss, and good for all ages. Get it done, check it off the list, move on with the day. If you wanna get fancy, you can draw or stick a star on the card when they get it correct, and offer an incentive for earning x number of stars, but that’s just gravy.
- Morning Grooming – pick a word of the day out of your stack of index cards and stick it up on the mirror or vanity in the bathroom. Run through a quick 10-15 productions of that word just after brushing teeth. This option has the added benefit of the toothbrushing “waking up” the mouth a little bit, naturally orienting the child’s attention to their mouth, AND having a mirror right there to assist with placement of the articulators (tongue, lips, jaw, etc). Again, good for all ages.
- Play Time – this is where classic, tried and true speech therapy techniques are most at home. Are the kids playing outside? Use sidewalk chalk to write target words out near the basketball hoop and have your child say the word before taking a shot. Or have the kids ride over the words with their bikes, saying each word as they ride over it. Put the target(s) on index cards and put them out in front of the soccer net or on the trampoline. It’s rainy and yucky outside? Use those cards again and put them under individual Legos, doll clothes, game pieces, crayons, etc.
- Lunch – See breakfast
- Art Time – Involve your child in making their own artic cards! Write a target word on a card, and then draw pictures of the word. If you kid isn’t so much with the drawing (like mine), print pictures from the internet and they can color, cut, paste, and glue them on to the index cards. Other fun ideas include cutting apart magazines looking for pictures or words that have the target sound and making paper bag puppets that can gobble up the word cards. There are also about one million articulation projects that can be downloaded off the internet (more on that next week).
- Snack – again, see breakfast. Snack has the bonus of often including little bits of things — think popcorn, Pirate Booty, baby carrots and dip, dried fruit — which you can dole out one-by-one, requiring a practice word before each little bit. Kick it up a notch and throw in a special treat like individual chocolate chips for bonus productions. For example, saying the word 5x earns you popcorn, saying it 10 times earns you a gummy.
- Dinner – yup, same as breakfast
- Evening Grooming – same as morning grooming
- Bedtime – keep those cards on a ring on Junior’s nightstand and go through them just before s/he tucks in for the night. If you read to your kiddo at night (and you should!), you can also draw his or her attention to words with the target sound, even pointing them out in the text.
A nice goal is to shoot for at least 20, good, clean, and accurate productions of each word each day. You can formally track this, or just eyeball it. My kids are both pretty competitive, so they used to really like the challenge of seeing how many they could say in a day. Think you’ll give any of these a try? Have some other great ideas to share? We’d love to hear about it! And we’ll be back next week to share our top 5 favorite online resources for at-home articulation activities 🙂