Two charts are provided above regarding the development of speech sounds. There are some generalities about speech sound development as well as some variances. As sounds develop the sound could begin to develop at the age level noted above or be developed by the age listed. Depending upon the researchers who studied sound development, the age levels vary.
As your child participates in speech therapy it is a good idea to have some practice opportunities at home. Your child will learn to make their sounds in a progressive manner. First: isolation (learning correct tongue placement, lip structure, air flow, and voice characteristics). Second: syllables (making the sound with a vowel, example: pa, ap, apa, ip, pi, ipi, etc.). Third: words, using the sounds in a word. Fourth: using the sound/ word in a short phrase or sentence. Fifth: using the sound in a longer sentence. Sixth: using the sound in conversations. This is the last level, it is called generalization, using the sound in all contexts/ settings.
It is important to remember that learning any new skill is progressive, same as for sound development. When a child can make the sound in isolation, he/ she will have go through the progressive stages before you will hear the sound in conversations. It is important to practice at home so that the consistency with practice is provided. This will facilitate the maintenance of the sound as well as progression.
Another skill that is important for a child to learn is self monitoring and self correction. This involves your son/daughter listening to their speech and noticing/correcting their own errors. This seems to be an easy skill to learn however, it progresses over time (and is very hard to do). Try it: when you speak make a conscious effort to notice your tongue and lip movements. What happens? Does your rate of speech slow down? Can you listen to your speech sounds and get your message across to another person at the same time? Is this easy to do?
Below are some suggestions to work on speech sounds with your child. Your child's speech therapist will let you know the sound or group of sounds your child is working on.
• Find articulation practice sheets on the Internet. Do a google search of: articulation, sound practice sheets, sh worksheets, z pictures, etc.
• Play a memory game and find pictures that have your child's speech sound. Use the picture cards in the game.
• Cut pictures from magazines that have your child's speech sound. Make a picture collage or a book. Practice using the pictures.
As always, talk with your speech therapist if you have any questions. We are here to help. Remember that practicing with your child should be a fun experience. If it is not, please contact your speech therapist for further ideas/suggestions.
Sherri Shire-Susser M.A. CCC/SLP