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Should I Correct My Child's Speech Errors?

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, July 18, 2011
Vol. 12 No. 31, July 18, 2011, ISSN: 1536-2035
(c) 2011, Heather Idoni - www.FamilyClassroom.net

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Guest Article
-- Correcting a Child's Speech Errors
Winning Website
-- Exploration Nation
Helpful Tip
-- Launching a Local Homeschool Group
Reader Question
-- Speech Therapy Alternatives?
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Guest Article

Should I Correct My Child's Speech Errors?
  by Deborah Lott


It can be frustrating when your child makes repeated articulation errors. In some cases, you KNOW that the child can produce the sound if you ask him to. But, should you stop your child frequently to make corrections? Will that help to improve his speech, or will it just frustrate him?

Mastery of speech sounds follows an order of progression. First the child learns to imitate the sound by itself. Then he learns to produce it in single words. At this point, it still takes some focus and concentration to produce it correctly. In conversation, however, the child is thinking about his ideas and has little awareness of what his mouth is doing to produce his sounds and words as he speaks. For sounds to be produced correctly in connected speech, the habits of correct tongue placement have to be automatic.

So... stopping your child while he or she is speaking will likely result in little or no improvement in his speech. He is simply unable to monitor every speech sound and effectively communicate his message at the same time. What correction of conversational speech is likely to do is to make your child self-conscious of his speech and less willing to talk. It may also make him feel that you are uninterested in his ideas and stories. Remember that the transfer of ideas and back and forth interaction is the ultimate goal of communication. Any attempts to improve your child's articulation should not interfere with that.*

If you want to point out some sound errors to your child, or to encourage better speech, try choosing a time when you are not busy or hurried. Model one of his difficult sounds and have him try to imitate you. If he is able to imitate the sound, have him repeat some words beginning with that sound. If he has trouble repeating the sound, have him watch your mouth carefully. Think about what your mouth and tongue are doing, so that you can explain it to him. For many children, this simple activity will encourage him to master the sound and eventually carry it over into conversation, although this is unlikely to happen immediately.

Be patient with your child's progress, work with his speech sounds in a low-pressure way, and seek professional help if needed. But above all, make communication a positive experience for your child!


Deborah Lott is a speech pathologist and homeschooling mom of four who has a M.Ed in speech pathology and an interest in sharing information about speech development and speech therapy for children. She is the publisher of the Super Star Speech: Speech Therapy Made Simple series of books to aid parents in correcting their children's articulation errors at home. In the "Speech Tips" section of the Super Star Speech website, you can find more information and free speech practice materials. You can also read more great articles at Deborah's blog.

*Deborah's Super Star Speech book includes a separate page of instructions for teaching your child almost every speech sound as well as picture cards and other activities for practicing sounds.


Your feedback is always welcome! -- mailto:heather@familyclassroom.net

Winning Website

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Helpful Tip

More Tips for Starting a Local Homeschool Support Group

"The internet is the easiest and most efficient way to publicize your new group. Utilize your current group's email list (if you can) to announce that you are starting a group nearer your home. Locate other area groups and ask them to spread the word too via email. Start a blog for your group, or a google calendar, or a website.

Summer is a great time to start getting together informally. People aren't tied down to a daily lesson schedule so they are more apt to come out for park day or swim day. Perhaps try identifying some families with boys your son enjoys getting together with and start by inviting those families and encouraging them to bring their homeschooling friends.

I am one of the founding members of a homeschool support group that started 14 years ago with monthly support meetings and field trips. But we've seen a decrease in the number of moms who come out for support meetings since the use of the internet became more widespread. Many people get their information and support online now and find less of a need to get together for those purposes. They still WANT to get together, though; it's just the purpose that has changed. So, we have book club and mom's night out and beach day and smaller, more purposeful get-togethers.

Another idea that could help you get a core group together is an academic group such as a weekly science lesson, writing group, or foreign language study. People can commit to a certain length of time and the kids are all around the same age so they'll get to know one another. If you don't feel capable, maybe you can contract with a tutor to offer lessons. In my area, writing classes get a good response.

Best wishes to you as you connect to other area homeschoolers!"

Lisa Wagner, Seeds of Faith Assistant Coordinator, http://www.sofhomeschool.com

[Editor's note: Lisa won't toot her own horn, but I will! She has written an e-book on how to form and operate a successful homeschool co-op. You can read more about it at the link below.]

How To Start a Homeschool Co-op

Last Issue's Reader Question

Alternative Speech Therapy Suggestions?

"What is a good way to treat severe speech disorders in children? I know the public schools offer free services and we have gone that route before, but then they started wanting to 'approve our homeschool curriculum' and suggested that we put our daughter in an all-day daycare where speech 'professionals' could work with her. Obviously, as homeschool parents, we were not too thrilled with these recommendations and interference into our homeschool program. So, we pulled her out. But insurance doesn't cover private speech therapy and it is so expensive. Any other ideas?" -- Christina in Texas

Our Readers' Responses

"I don't know exactly what speech issues your daughter is dealing with, but I have some suggestions for curriculum that you can buy outright. My son goes to speech therapy and they started using a program with him that can be bought through Homeschool Buyer's Co-Op. Go to the co-op at http://www.homeschoolbuyersco-op.org/ and sign-up for a membership (free). Then you have access to buy multiple curriculums at the discounted 'group buy' prices.

The program is called Reading Assistant. The child uses headphones and a microphone to read aloud a section from a book (they use digital versions of real books). The computer then 'grades' the reading and gives words to work on. The kids can also listen to their own recordings. The idea is to improve the reading each time and increase fluency. It is a subscription so you can buy a year at once or go month-to-month.

The easiest way to find it on the website is to go to Index-All and then find it listed under Language Arts. Homeschool buyer's Co-op also has a site listed under Special Needs called PCI Language Arts. This site is extensive and has a lot of resources besides just Language Arts.

Here are some more ideas:

HearBuilder Phonological Awareness Home Edition Software - $69.95 for 1-4 students:

Earobics is a reading program, but it targets phonemic awareness and fluency:

I don't know if these are helpful or not since there can be quite a variety of issues that fall under the speech therapy umbrella. So my biggest suggestion is to find a yahoo group of homeschooling parents dealing with speech issues. There are so many yahoo groups there has to be one. And if there isn't already, start one! Parents dealing with the same issues can be such a great resource for where to find help and ideas plus they truly understand what you are going through. Be encouraged!" -- Jennifer in TX


"We tried speech therapy through the public school when he was about 5. I found that the group therapy they offered was not very effective, nor was the 'once every two weeks' schedule. We didn't last even a full semester. I decided that just working with him on my own was better.

But I felt a lack of direction until I found Super Star Speech Therapy, which is designed for parents to use at home to help children with speech issues. My son, age 11, has been very cooperative. The books are affordable, too." -- Lisa W. in Michigan


"When my son was three he was in speech therapy at the public school for three years. He was going to Christian school for K4 and k5 so I didn't get too much pressure, but I understand your concerns.

We homeschool now and I was looking about and discovered this program: http://www.swrtraining.com

I have never used it so you may need to check reviews, etc.

It is Homebased speech and Language Therapy. It is with by Marisa J. Lapish, who has a MA in Speech Pathology. The price was very reasonable and you wouldn't have to drive, wait and only do an hour a week. You'd be at home and have sessions as you feel your child needs it." -- Nancy from AL


"Check out this website: http://www.superstarspeech.com/

It is an at-home speech program geared towards homeschoolers. Browse through the whole site -- there is a lot of information besides the speech books they sell (at a very modest price, by the way)." -- Kris


"Christiana -- I had a child born with a bilateral cleft palate and many speech issues. Due to driving distance, insurance and other things, public school help and private therapy were not an option for us either. Someone recommended the program 'Straight Talk' available from Nathhan.org: http://nathhan.org/ResourceRoom/straight_talk.htm

They offer two different programs, are very easy to use and worked wonderfully. I used this in conjunction with ideas from the internet and the speech therapist at the hospital. She also looked this over and thought it very good. I would take him back, at first, every three months for evaluation and eventually that went to six months and then once a year. Now at nine we don't even do that. I found that taking it slow, working on one or two things at a time until mastery, no matter how long it took and being consistent were key to success. Making a chart of the areas (sounds, letters, tongue work, ect) helped immensely to keep track with what needed to be done and to make sure he didn't slip back into old bad habits. It also let's them see how much progress they are making.

Take what others say your child should be doing with care; you know what is right for your child and what they are capable of. Go at their pace -- this is a marathon not a sprint. Your goal is for your child to be able to communicate effectively as an adult, if it takes them till they're 16 or more, fine. According to 'experts' my son was going to be in speech for years and may never master certain things. Obviously at nine we are years ahead of where they said he would be. Now if I could just get rid of the 'local twang' he has picked up!" -- Cyndi R.


"We recently found out that the local university offers speech. The evaluation costs $100. We will start speech in the fall twice a week for 45 minutes each session and the cost is $150 for the entire semester. They like homeschoolers because other children needing speech are in school during the day." -- Deanna in Georgia


"Christina -- If you live near a university with a speech therapy program, you may be able to receive services from the students there. The advantages are low cost service -- and it is offered by students who are excited to be putting their learning into practice (they are supervised by licensed SLP's). One disadvantage is that that every semester you'll get a new student therapist, so you don't get to build up a long term relationship with them." -- Laurie


"I don't know, Christina, how severe the speech disorder is, but have you been able to watch how the therapist works with your child and do the same things yourself? My one son had difficulty with many sounds when he was learning to talk. If he said, 'Why', he might have meant anything from pie to sky. I began to work on one sound at a time and when he mastered it, he received a 'Smartie' candy for being smart. I would repeat the sound numerous times during the day and wait for his response -- no pressure. He knew there was a reward when he could get it out of his own mouth. I would take him to the mirror where he could watch my mouth and his, while trying to make the sound.

I am a common mom with a formal education up to grade 8 only. I think we depend on others too much for things we could educate ourselves to do. But maybe I'm too simplistic. Maybe your daughter does need help beyond what you can give her and, if so, I hope you find the help you need. My son is a very artistic person and you would never guess he had trouble with speaking at one point. The other side of the coin is to not just hope it will go away. It is very difficult to teach a first grader his sounds when he hasn't learned to speak correctly! If he's grown up saying 'sum' for thumb, he will write sum." -- Marie L.

New Reader Question

Mom of Gifted Young Son Looking for Ideas

"My son's interests are astrophysics and website design. I went to the library and got him some computer programming books. I know nothing in either of these areas. They don't make books for children either. I try to follow his interests, but he's already way beyond me. He's 8 by the way. Are there any books for children that cover these areas? Everything I find is college age and beyond. So I'm going with college books for now, but he's only 8 and it's a lot to absorb. Can anyone steer me in the right direction? I'm overwhelmed here. I don't know where to start in either of these areas."

-- Candee, a member of our Homeschooling Gifted Yahoo Group


Would you like to bless Candee with some ideas?
Please send your email to: hn-answers@familyclassroom.net

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