When addressing the F sound, it is important to remember that we give children up until about four to master this sound. So younger ones may not produce all F words correctly. It is also important to note….which I have not stated above…..that a words complexity (oral motor wise) is impacted by the following: the number of syllables in a word, the placement of the target sound (is it in the initial position as in fish….or in the medial position as in Sophia ~f sound even though it’s a ph-English is so confusing for little ones~…. or is it in the final position as in staff) and finally the complexity is impacted by the letters that come before the target sound and the letters that follow the target sound…..especially when the word is a cluster word (two consonants together as in flower). So remember to look at the sound development chart above first to determine at about what age your little one should be producing the sound in question. If F is a sound that she should be producing I hope the strategies below are helpful.
I think to start off it is important to see if your child can find the right placement for F. Sometimes just saying to your child “put your teeth on your lips”-is not enough. She may need to look in a mirror while finding the “right place for her teeth”. The visual feedback is important because it gives her more awareness as to where her teeth need to be. Be sure to tell her to lightly place her teeth on her lips….because when you have her practice making the F sound….you will say: “lightly place your teeth on your lips….then blow.” That cue should be enough for her to be able to say the F sound. Often times children will substitute P for F. Even when they are practicing the F sound with the cue: “lightly place your teeth on your lips then blow.”……they still at times, will make a slight F sound then that top lip comes down and you hear a P sound. You can reduce this by having your child place her pointer finger on her upper lip and hold it up and she practices that F sound.
Once you find that she is able to find the right placement….have her feel the air that escapes from her oral cavity as she makes the sound…..you can cue her first by producing the F sound yourself…and letting her feel the air that escapes (from your mouth) on her hand. This is a tactile cue….and the more cues you provide…..the easier it will be for her to produce the target sound.
Now if she is still struggling to find the right placement…I have used peanut butter (obviously if no allergies), creamed cheese or cake icing…..next put a small amount on her lip and ask her to remove the food with her teeth. Again you may have to demonstrate….and using the mirror will give her good feedback.
Next you can practice in syllables such as: fafa, fefe, fifi, fofo, fu, fu. Then try in easy words such as: food, fun, fit. Then try in short phrases: Food is good. And then in longer sentences…..and always remember to try and put the target word first….so it is less challenging.
Please click on this link for F words in the initial position: INITIALFWORDS