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Generalization: Parent Tips to Help Your Child Master Their Speech Sounds

Our therapists at Discover Speech Therapy work hard to help our clients master goals in speech therapy quickly.  One of the best things about working with our clients in private practice is that we get to interact with our client’s parents weekly.  At Discover Speech Therapy, we strive to provide both child and family-centered therapy, meaning we provide our client’s parents an overview of every session along with homework, when appropriate.  We get to spend a small fraction of your week with you, therefore, the practice you do at home is so incredibly important to helping your child make faster progress in speech therapy.

Our team put together a few of our favorite tips and suggestions that we provide our families to help children with articulation disorders generalize the sounds they are learning in therapy to real-life situations and daily life.   It’s so important to start working on generalization early in treatment because this is often the hardest part.   Oftentimes, our clients come to us, have an awesome session using accurate sounds, but as soon as they leave our clinic, they are right back to using their old sounds.  As we all know, habits are hard to break. Learning a new motor pattern to develop the correct way to produce a sound takes lots and lots and lots of practice, which is why your practice at home throughout the week is crucial in helping your child break these habits.  

5 tips/suggestions to help your child generalize their sounds they are learning in speech to everyday life:

Daily practice: just 2-3 minutes a day of daily practice can make a huge difference in how quickly your child will master their new sound.  Try to pair this practice with something you’re already doing such as waiting for dinner to finish, right before/after getting ready for bed, or after brushing your teeth.  If your SLP sent home a list of words, this is the perfect time to practice these words.

Shared reading:  shared reading can be used in a couple of different ways.  If your child is not ready to practice their sounds at the reading level, this is a good opportunity for you to read to your child, modeling accurate productions of target sounds, and talking about which words have your child’s sound in them.  If your child is working on their sound at the reading level, then sitting down together, and listening to them read is a good way to incorporate daily speech practice and help provide feedback on correct/incorrect productions. 

Practice in different environments: helping your child move beyond the speech therapy clinic to practicing their sounds in a variety of different environments can be very helpful.  Try practicing your sounds in the car, at baseball practice, at church, or when dining out to help increase your child’s awareness and self-monitoring of their speech production skills in all aspects of their life.  

Create a positive experience: it is much more likely that your child will want to practice their speech sounds at home if you have created a positive environment for your child to learn, and make mistakes!  Try your best not to correct your child every time they make a mistake. Instead try setting aside a few minutes each day to talk about their speech and practice together.  Discuss with your SLP what your child should be able to do so you have realistic expectations on what your child is able to do at home.  

Have frank discussions: if your child is old enough to understand, please have frank discussions with them about why they go to speech, and what they have to accomplish in order to graduate from speech.  We want them to know that speech isn’t ongoing forever.  They should have a goal, and be actively working toward their goal.  

I hope these ideas give you something actionable to add to your daily routine to help your child generalize speech sounds they’re learning in speech to daily life outside the therapy clinic, and help them along the way to graduating from speech!