Top Tips – Speech practice for busy families

reading to child for speech work
Stories and speech work

It’s always a delight to work with a child who is really motivated to practise their speech goals both within and out with sessions. To see them trying so hard, improving week on week and responding to feedback is hugely rewarding.

The role of the family is hugely important in carrying on practice outside of sessions. Creating opportunities on a daily basis to practice a specific sound or process can sometimes be a challenge. Here are my top tips for creating opportunities to practice which are fun and motivating.

Number 1 – Little and Often

Try and do a little bit everyday rather than mammoth practice sessions.  Little and often will keep practice fun rather tham feelings like work. Maybe try to find a time everyday when you can do a bit of focused practice and use some of the suggestions below to keep it motivating.  Alternatively use opportunities  throughout the day to get short sharp bursts of practice, again, see some suggestions below.

bee tree speech post

Number 2 – Get Creative with Toys and Games

Play games that involve lots of turns as these give many opportunities to practice the target sound.  Have your child say the sound each time they take a turn.

  • Board games such Snakes and ladders are a fun way to takes turns for you to model and your child to practice their sounds.
  • Jenga is a great suspense-building game with lots of opportunities for practice.
  • Kerplunk or bubble bee (pictured) allows for a lots of turns, pulling out a leaf after every attempt whilst trying to avoid the falling bees.

Number 3 – Keep Motivation High with Technology.

number generator speech postIf it involves technology never feels like so much work!!  Two of my favourites are:

  • Number generator – where you shake a mobile phone to generate a number and they you practice the sound/ word/ phrase assigned that number.
  • A recent and highly successful find is Lego Creator.  The child gets to build something but has many chances to practice the target in the process (good old-fashioned lego will also work a treat of course!!).

Number 4 – Be portable

Practice in the car, on the walk home from school or when going round the supermarket. Have a competition or set a challenge using what’s round about you. For example, how many things can you see beginning with “s” or “find me an item that begins with “f”

Number 5 – Use Stories

reading to child for speech work
speech work at story time

Cuddles on the couch or at bedtime with a story is a great time to practice speech sounds. It’s a lovely close 1:1 time for you to model the correct sounds and a great low-pressure way for them to practice. Get your child to point out pictures, or if reading, reading individual words and building up to phrases and sentences which contain the target sound

Number 6  – Celebrate Success

Don’t put pressure on your child for perfect productions every time. In order to keep motivation up, a child needs to feel success. Speech work takes time and practice and that will become really tricky if the child feels under pressure.

Playing games together, building practice into every-day interactions and relaxed moments like story time takes the pressure off – whilst giving lots and lots of opportunity to practice.  Have fun 🙂

Katy works as a Speech and Language Therapist at Grow Communication and loves finding ways to make therapy motivating and creative.  Grow Communication is a non-profit company, providing Speech and Language Therapy in Central Scotland.