Do you have a fast-talking, sometimes unintelligible preschooler? When evaluating articulation, I often find sound substitutions, (for example: W instead of R, or S instead of TH) but the main issue is the child’s rate of speech.
Kids often want to keep up with their parents’ chatter, so while their jaw, lips and tongue might not be ready to handle rapid conversation, they try anyway, and this results in less intelligible speech than if they used the following three “talking rules”:
1. Talk slowly
2. Separate each word
3. Finish each word
You may be wondering if your ~3 year old even knows what a word is. Sometimes preschoolers can’t figure it out, but when they try to separate words, speech is automatically slowed, and results are achieved!
Often parents realize their child is talking too fast, and naturally, they encourage a slower rate of speech. It can be difficult for a child to carry slow talking into daily conversation.
What to do?
1. Consistently provide a good rate of speech model.
2. Each day, provide 10-15 minutes of structured slow talking time. Show your child one photo on your phone. Model a simple sentence (following the three rules): “Kate is on the swing.”
3. Using small objects, such as race cars, checker pieces, or beads, line up one car at a time as you say each word. I typically “park” cars in a parking lot I have drawn on a piece of cardboard.
4. Encourage your child to do the same.
5. Have your son / daughter say the sentence a second time, only this time, don’t touch the cars, just point toward each car.
6. For the third attempt, your child can say the sentence just pointing in the air as each word is stated. Sometimes kids like to slap their leg instead.
7. Start over with a new picture.
At first, words may get broken up into syllables, or contractions split into two words.
If your child deletes endings of words, practice those individual words. Model endings of words in an over-articulated manner (e.g., pancake, swing, cat). Encourage your child to imitate. You may have to model / imitate a few times, especially before your child can say the endings correctly within the context of the sentence.
Encourage pointing, slapping, clapping or tapping on the table during conversation throughout the day, as necessary.
The three rules don’t always work for each child, because an articulation delay and/or oral-motor delay may be too prominent. If you and your child have given the three rules a fair shot, it may be a good idea to consult with a speech therapist.
Clear speech is critical to being understood in conversation, in friendships and at Manhattan private school kindergarten interviews. The AABL / ERB test is not going to be required or accepted by most private Manhattan schools this year. Schools will be conducting their own assessments. Clear speech and strong language skills will help your child shine at kindergarten admissions interviews.
Your child has important, creative and funny things to say! If you have concerns about your child’s speech and language skills, or kindergarten interviews, and you live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, please contact Stephanie Sigal, speech – language pathologist at email@example.com. Stephanie provides speech therapy and kindergarten prep in your Upper East Side home.