Time to Talk: Sounding out the New Year for Kids’ Development

New Year’s Resolutions: Articulation and Early Reading

Making New Year’s Resolutions? How about resolving to create a culture of reading in your family, supporting language development while connecting with your kids.

It’s hard to believe that yet another year is over and that a New Year is beginning. It’s time to make some resolutions for the future. My resolution is to spread clear and helpful information to parents. What are you resolved to do in the future?

Here’s some helpful information. As I’ve written in the past, young children mispronounce words in the cutest ways. At what point is it a problem that needs a speech-language pathologist? It usually becomes a problem for grandparents. They begin to admit that they need a parent’s interpretation to understand their grandkids. Then you may notice that their peers don’t understand. The child may start being aware that peers are reacting to their speech and begin to think that speaking is hard. If a child shows any frustration around communication, it’s time to seek help.

I have had my best success with children who come to me before starting to read. I always praise these parents. Here’s why. We link sounds to letters when we read. If the child is mispronouncing “tat” for “cat,” you can imagine the confusion on reading “c” and “t” in that word. Using their own speech as a base, the child may think a “c” and a “t” both have the “t” sound. So sounding out words, which is easy for some kids, can become a nightmare for others. But for a child who’s done work pronouncing “k” sounds as the first sound in “cat,” the child already knows that the sounds should be different in the beginning and end. So the reading reinforces what they already know. Reading becomes a visual cue for their pronunciation.

The “r” sound is often hard for children and one of the last sounds to appear in children’s speech developmentally. But when a child has worked at the right developmental time on pronouncing their “r” sounds, each letter “r” they encounter when they read becomes a visual reminder to pronounce it. Both parents and I find our work on articulation especially gratifying as their child starts to read. Suddenly the child is applying all their previous work at speech sessions to reading! It often provides a leap in articulation skills. If they have any problem, I underline the target sound in red on the page as a reminder. And their success at reading becomes a natural reward.

This holiday season, we should all make time to focus on our children. A great resolution would be to spend some quality time reading with your child. Take turns and be patient. Remember, you’re building a memory of good times together and boosting their confidence, as well as a creating a positive experience as “a reader” that will impact the future success of your child. Our choices are important. Choose your New Year’s resolutions with care. Happy holidays!

[Photo credit: (cc) stephencullo]


Kathy Puckett

Kathy is a private practice speech-language pathologist living in Shelburne, MA and the author of our monthly speech and language column, Time to Talk. Living in Western Massachusetts since 1970, she raised two children here and has two grandsons, ages 15 and 8 years old. She has worked as an SLP with people of all ages for the last 14 years. She runs social thinking skill groups and often works with teens. As a professional artist, she has a unique and creative approach to her practice. She loves technology, neurology, gardening, orchids, and photography. She uses an iPad for therapies. She grows 500 orchids and moderates her own forum for orchid growers (Crazy Orchid Lady). Kathy is dedicated to the families of her private practice, and offers practical, creative ideas to parents. She blogs about communication at kathypuckett.com.

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