Tips to Improve Your Child’s Speech Clarity
TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR CHILD’S SPEECH CLARITY
Speech sound development is a gradual process. It takes up to 8 years to master all the speech sounds of one’s language.
In some instances children may need some help in learning to articulate or pronounce certain sounds or in general to sound clearer.
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Here are a few tips to improve your child’s speech clarity at home.
Know what you are going to say:
First and foremost is to know what we are going to speak. Clarity isn’t just about forming words properly, it’s also about getting your message or point of view out as precisely as possible. Taking at least a moment before uttering a word, to know what you are going to say will help you speak with clarity and prevent you from making unnecessary errors. Therefore, make sure your child knows what he/ she have to say. You can label it as ‘thinking time’ before your child talks. Model ‘thinking time’ to your child when you speak to them.
Have good breath support:
Good breath support is must for having fluent and clear speech production. Inappropriate breath or poor breathing control may result in poor loudness balance, deletion in part of the words or it may sound totally different that the way it has to be pronounced. So, make sure your child has taken in sufficient breath to speak out. Ask them to fill their tummy with air before they speak.
Many times child’s speech clarity becomes poor because they speak too fast or they speak as soon as they think about something. By making them slow down slightly, their lips, tongue, jaw or any other articulator required for particular production will have sufficient time to complete their movement and make speech sound more clear. One can ask child to pat and speak or squeeze the smile ball for each letter or each word depending upon the requirement.
Open your mouth sufficiently:
Speech to be heard clearly, it needs to be well resonated within oral – nasal cavity and propelled out well with sufficient opening of mouth. When there is limited or less opening of mouth, speech sounds muffled and distorted. Always make your child open mouth sufficiently i.e., middle three finger width to practice with and then gradually to teach the concept of ‘sufficient mouth opening’.
Swallow saliva and keep mouth empty:
Saliva production is normal and important process that occurs in all. We all know that technique of swallowing saliva whenever required, which happens almost automatic without much conscious effort to do so. Some children may not get that concept of swallowing the saliva. They may speak when there is saliva in mouth which makes speech to sound as wet, gurgly or distorted. Remind your child to swallow saliva and keep mouth empty.
Use a Mirror:
Mirror is one of the most benefitting tools to teach many things to the children. Make exaggerated movements, open your mouth clearly make child notice how your lips look, where is your tongue, quantity of mouth opening etc. and make him/her imitate you. Child will find it easy to do in front of the mirror, as it gives him/ her feedback about his attempt and it is more fun!
Play word game:
Make a list of words (written, photos, books or real) depending upon the thing you want to focus, wether it is for slowing down, mouth opening, imitating mouth movements or just a list of few difficult words from routine vocabulary. Sit in front of the mirror on in front of each other, take turns and say the words. It’s nothing but repeated practicing of the exercises in a fun way.
Name the context:
Lastly, name the context. If we know the context or the topic of conversation, it will give cues to the listener about possible utterances or words child is speaking. You can make child label the context by asking questions like ‘where’, ‘when’, ‘are you speaking about school?’ etc. Getting to know the context will not improve the child’s clarity of speech, but it will make communication take place in better way, motivates and reinforces child to speak more.
Consult a Speech Language Pathologist:
Each and every sound develops in its own time span. One must know very clearly which sounds to be taught at what age. Additionally, slight issues with clarity can be made better with the above mentioned techniques or these can be used in addition with the ongoing therapy practice. If there are more issues with clarity or if you find your child lagging behind as compared to his peer group, expert advice and intervention becomes must to foster the improvement. Read here to know more about a Speech Language Therapist.
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