How to teach the S sound


This strategy is specifically for when the S sound is in a cluster-which means two consonants together.  For example: star, stop, steak, stick.  When I work on S clusters I start off to see if the child is stimulable for the S sound in isolation.  That means can the child produce just by itself.  If your child can not produce the S sound in isolation-for me I like to see the child making that sound first in isolation (that means the sound by itself-you can ask your child to produce the snake sound to cue her on how the sound “sounds”).  I call the S sound the snake sound… that she remembers that’s what it sounds like.  Remember the more cues you give your child, the easier it will be for her.

Okay… once you have the S sound I actually treat cluster words as a sound and then the rest of the word.  What I mean by that is….I have the child make the snake sound…then a very slight pause…..and then produce the rest of the word.  I always am sure to keep my words in groups.  That means I do ST cluster words together….such as: steak, star, stick and stop.  I would NOT do: steak, slip, snack, smart.  That would be too confusing.  Now if your child is having difficulty producing the sound that follows the snake sound S-that brings up some more challenges…so you can reply to this post if I have not yet covered it. 

Okay….so your child produced the snake sound….now have her produce the rest of the word.  Remember there is a half second (about) pause between the snake sound and the rest of the word.  The pause makes it easier on her with regard to the motor planning pieces of making the sound.  This means by treating it almost like two different words her brain has less demands with regard to how the sound is made. Keep practicing until you think she is ready to say the whole word without the pause. 

Once she can say the word all by itself…meaning not in a sentence….not in a phrase…just: STEAK-then you can start in simple phrases…..always being sure to start off with the target word.  This makes it easier for her to plan out how she is going to say the word.  For example you could say: steak is hot.

Next you can do in short sentences and then in longer sentences. 

Visual Cue/Physical Cue:

Finally, and very important.  The visual cue for the S sound is as follows.  Take your pointer finger, place it on your lips, as you say the snake sound move your finger out and away from your body in a long line.  This visual cue will help her to understand that S is a long continuing sound.

About Kim

My name is Kim Marino and I have been practicing as a licensed speech and language pathologist since 1993. I work on Long Island providing diagnostic evaluations and services to children from birth to age 21. My experience is vast and am proud to say that I work with children that may present with articulation and phonological concerns, oral motor feeding concerns, Down Syndrome feeding, cognitive rehabilitation, auditory processing delays, receptive language delays, cleft palate feeding and sound development and expressive language delays. Most importantly, I am the mother of four amazing children and am happily married to my childhood sweetheart. I feel blessed to have my four children and so lucky to share this journey in life with my husband. I always had it somewhere in my head that I wanted to develop a blog or a website of some sort so that I could provide families with an additional that parents could help their little ones become a better communicator. And as I was developing this blog....I realized that I also needed to share the stories about my life and my children....and the funny things along the way that help to keep me smiling. Whether you are a working mother or not...finding balance between home, children and life can be a challenge....I hope that my blog helps to bring a smile to your face..and also some tools to help you help your little or big one. I hope you enjoy! Kim
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