How Do I Practice Speech With My Child At Home?

Your child’s speech language pathologist (SLP) asked you to practice the /k/ sound at the beginning of words at home. But how do you go about doing that? It doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive. Here are a few ideas!

  • Scavenger Hunt – You and your child can go around your home to search for items that include your child’s target sounds in their name. Ex: toy car, cup, cartoons, coat, candle
  • Books – While reading a story together, look for words or pictures in the book that include more target sounds. Depending on what your child can produce correctly, have them repeat the word back to you or put it in a phrase such as “I found the car.”
  • Coloring/Painting – Grab some crayons, paintbrushes, paint, and some paper and draw pictures of animals, toys, or other objects that include certain sounds. Ex: car, cat, candy, kite
  • Play-doh – create objects out of the Play-doh that start with your child’s target sound. You can pretend to bake a “cake” or “cookies” together.
  • Catch – While playing catch with your child, say a word using the target sound before each throw. For repeated practice in short phrases, you can say “I caught it” after a catch.

If you are having difficulty coming up with words with your child’s target sounds, be sure to ask your child’s SLP to provide you with a list of possible words. I am sure he or she will be thrilled to help you!

This can be done targeting all sounds in all word positions, so take these ideas and run with them to practice the sounds that are applicable for your child’s therapy. Working on sounds in your home outside of direct therapy sessions is extremely important for developing carry-over skills of your child’s target sounds. Hopefully these ideas can provide more opportunities for fun practice together!

-Shannon Greenlee M.A., CCC-SLP

**If you have any concerns with your child’s speech, language, hearing and/or feeding development, please contact Curlee Communication Consultants at (865) 693-5622. We have a team of experienced speech-language pathologists that would love to meet with you and discuss options for your child. **

The Importance of Vocal Hygiene

What are the things that truly define you?  Your personality?  Your appearance?  Your career?  All of these things make up different parts of who we are, but one part of us that people often leave unaccounted for is our voice.  Your voice is a defining aspect of your identity.  Protecting your voice is important.  The act and art of keeping your voice healthy is called vocal hygiene.  Vocal hygiene involves taking steps to keep your vocal folds healthy and your voice strong and clear. 

Our vocal folds are covered by a thin layer of mucous.  This mucosal layer is vital to the correct vibration of the vocal folds.  To function properly, the mucosal layer needs to stay moist.  Adequate consumption of water is vital to keeping the mucosal layer moist.  Water is your best ally in practicing good vocal hygiene!  One of the worst enemies of vocal hygiene is caffeine.  Caffeinated beverages (coffee, soda, etc.) dry out the mucosal layer, resulting in a rough voice and possible damage to the vocal folds.  Drinking water and avoiding caffeinated beverages is one of the best (and easiest) ways to maintain healthy a healthy voice.  Of course, water has many other health benefits as well.

Another important aspect of vocal hygiene is protecting your voice from abuse.  Vocal abuse occurs when the vocal folds are used improperly.  Do you love to cheer on the Vols every Saturday in the Fall?  Are you a teacher or a pastor?  If so, all your enthusiastic and heart-felt cheering or teaching might just be harming your vocal folds.  This “vocal abuse” occurs when the vocal folds are used improperly, such as with loud or prolonged shouting, cheering, screaming, or even talking.  While you are cheering or shouting, your vocal folds are slamming together hard.  After a period of time, this slamming could result in pathologies, such as vocal fold cysts or nodules.   These can be painful and result in permanent damage.  Protect your vocal cords from abuse!  If you find yourself led to cheer, do it!  Just be sure to have plenty of water on hand and rest your voice for a few hours afterward.

Following these simple steps will put you on the road to good vocal hygiene.  Drinking plenty of water and treating your voice gently (i.e. not using a loud voice or yelling frequently) both go a long way in preserving one of the most important parts of who you are:  your voice.    

Katherine “Kacey” Clark M.S. CF-SLP

**If you have any concerns with your child’s speech, language, hearing and/or feeding development, please contact Deborah L. Curlee Communication Consultants at (865) 693-5622. We have a team of experienced speech-language pathologists that would love to meet with you and discuss options for your child. **