Changing a motor pattern of any kind requires practice. Articulation patterns are no exception. To increase students' success in changing the way they speak, it is helpful for them to think about their speech patterns every day. However, at SL3, we believe that it is more harmful to practice incorrectly than to not practice at all. Therefore, we follow this hierarchy when promoting home practice:
At SL3, we also believe that articulation home practice should be:
1. Functional: Many cute products exist on the market to help students practice articulation at home. However, the best practice includes words chosen by the student. If a word is personally meaningful to a student, it is more likely that the student will want to say it correctly. Therefore, we recommend taking the time to ask the student to list key words with the target sound. For younger children, parents can help create this list. Then, use this list to help guide practice at home.
Target word lists might include: important names, favorite activities, special toys
Use all parts of speech! Ask the child to brainstorm action words, describing words, and question words that include the target sound too.
2. Fast: We've found that families are more likely to complete practice if it takes 5 minutes or less each day. A quick idea:
Create an artic word ring: Each speech session, add on one new articulation word (from the target list). The family can decorate each card and/or draw a picture of the target word. Then, every day, the student can say every word on the word ring. Make multiple cards with the same word. Then, families can take their self-made cards off the ring to play traditional games such as memory and go fish.
3. Tree saving: Like many of you, we love a cute worksheet. However, copying thousands of pages kills not only trees but lots of time. It's simply not necessary to spend resources to prepare articulation worksheets. The goal of home practice is to improve speaking; therefore, elaborate pictures are not needed. Here are some tree saving ideas:
Post it notes on books: For young children, send home picture books. On the front cover, put a post-it with key articulation words in the book. Ask parents to read the book with the child, and then practice the words on the post it 5 times.
Audio recording: Ask families to audio record the student saying words or a message to the SLP. Then, have the family email the recording to the SLP. During the speech session, the SLP and the student can analyze the recording. A free and easy to download computer program called audacity allows families to email recordings from any computer. For those using an iPad, we recommend getting the $5.00 app AudioNote. Audionote allows families to record, write messages, and take photos. Then, it can all be easily emailed. The possibilities for this are endless: A student might take a picture of a target articulation word and then practice the word, sending the results to the SLP. Or a student might take a picture of the family during an event and then describe the event to target conversation carryover.
4. Motivating to the Child: Everyone works better with a little positive reinforcement. We like to set up a reinforcement schedule with the student for completing home practice. For young children, this might include practicing 5 times at home in order to pick a toy from a small treasure box. Older students can work for privileges in the speech room, such as time on an iPad, time on a favorite game, or the ability to invite a friend to a speech session for game day.
To keep track of home practice, here is a free log available from the crazyspeechworld blog.
We've also collected more freebies and ideas for individual articulation sounds on our pinterest boards.