First of all your preschooler should not be told he has to practice speech or any other direct way of implying that there is something wrong with him that he needs to change. I figure I am doing things right when I hear a squeal of delight when I ring the doorbell, or my little client thinks I am his playmate, bringing exciting toys, games and books each time. Speech practice should be play and above all FUN.
Your speech therapist should give you specific things to work on that your child is now able to do, whether it is to make the sound of a car going, a /p/ sound or use correct pronouns. Practice is for repeating tasks that your child has begun to master. The therapist’s job is to introduce and teach concepts, the parent’s job is to reinforce things learned. Learning a new word to use, or place to put his tongue when speaking takes many repetitions before it is generalized to his speech and language. I am very specific about what I ask parents to practice and what NOT to practice. If their child has not mastered a sound or concept well enough yet, I don’t want them to work on it–that will only frustrate their child.
Ask your child’s speech therapist for ideas on how to carry over what your child has learned. What specific toys or books do they suggest? If your child is working on the mastery of a sound such as /p/, /t/, or /g/, think of what toys will encourage using words beginning or ending with that sound. Chose a pirate ship, farm with a pig, box you can “pack” with items, or a “pool” where you can take some little people for a swim. Repeat the word with your child’s sound in it as you play, pausing for your child to imitate you. “The girl jumps int he pool….the dog swims in the pool….” Shorten your modeled sentences to fit what your child can do. If they are speaking in 3 word sentences then model sentences that length or shorter so they can focus on the sounds they are trying to make. If your child’s speech goals relate to language, set up a play situation where you have lots of play people to practice “he” and “she” or verbs or vocabulary.
I always use great children’s books in therapy and carryover. Read a book that is loaded with words using tye sounds or concepts that your child is working on: The Great Fuzz Frenzy for /f/ or The Pout-Pout Fish for the /p/ sound. Emphasize the sound when your read and pause after a word to let your child imitate.
I will be blogging in the future about books to practice different sounds. If you have a favorite, let me know in the comments below and we can all benefit.