If you want a child you are working with to make progress in his/her articulation goals, you have to inspire them to practice between sessions. Make some fun stationery to list their practice words or sentences on and encourage parents to post it in a prominent place. Have parents and kids post stickers or write stars after each practice so they can “show off” their hard work the next time the therapist sees them. One Mom added “Speech” to her child’s responsibility chart and it became part of her daily routine.

Often I tell parents to keep practice sessions short, fun and frequent. It can be helpful to “warm up” a child’s speech before they head off to school. A reminder of using that /s/ or /r/ sound while talking at the breakfast table helps a child key into their sound. Let them listen to you and point out good and bad productions of their sound. They love to catch adults doing it wrong and it builds their auditory discrimination skills to monitor their own speech.

I realize I have an advantage over a school therapist in that I see parents during or after each speech therapy session AND they are paying for my services so I tell them, “If you want to spend less and finish speech faster, make sure your child practices!” It seems to work. They are anxious to get “new words” for practice after each session and the parents get more invested in the process. If kids are older, let them take responsibility for practice. I have some 7 year-olds who are working on /r/. They are motivated to practice simply by my offering to bring a special game of toy if they comply. One mom was to e-mail me the night before to tell me if her son practiced that week and I would bring the Playmobil Egyptian pyramid. Certain toys are reserved for good speech ¬†behavior:)