Why practising speech sounds at home is critical to making progress in speech therapy.
Treating speech sound disorders
Speech sound disorders are common among young children and refer to difficulties in pronouncing certain sounds in speech, such as saying “yake” for “lake” or “wabbit” for “rabbit”.
These errors can range from mild to severe and can make it very difficult for the child to be understood by others.
If left untreated, these disorders can have great ramifications in the future and can lead to various social, emotional, and academic challenges.1
The only evidence-based treatment for speech sound disorders is speech therapy.
Speech therapy is administered by a qualified Speech Pathologist and focuses on the attainment of individual goals to improve pronunciation of speech sounds.
Most Speech Pathologists use home practice exercises as part of their treatment and this practice is critical for quick and lasting progress.
Why home practice is important
Speech therapy sessions are usually conducted once a week, or fortnight, and typically last between 30 to 60 minutes per session.
Due to the limited amount of time a child spends in therapy, it is paramount that children practice their speech sounds at home in order to achieve optimal progress.
For example, just 10 minutes of home practice a day amounts to 70 minutes per week of additional therapy.
That extra 70 minutes of practice more than doubles the time a child might spend working on sounds in therapy alone and this maximising of dosage can improve therapy outcomes.
Parents and carers therefore play an important role in speech therapy home practice and their involvement is often considered vital.
The Hanen Centre, an internationally recognised organisation committed to improving children’s communication, states that “during parent-implemented intervention, ‘therapy’ happens whenever a parent and child are together, and the child learns while communicating about all the things that are most interesting, familiar and important to him.”2
What home practice looks like
Traditional home practice of speech sounds often involves the use of flashcards, worksheets or basic low-tech games.
While these strategies can be effective, a recent study showed that computer-led home practice resulted in an improvement in clinical outcomes over traditional parent-led practice.3
Computer-led practice is typically more fun and engaging for children, causing them to be more motivated and consistently complete their home activities for longer periods of time.4
Additionally, this type of home practice can be done anywhere that a computer or tablet is available.
Parents report that practice activities that are fun and that suit their child’s interests are easier to complete and are more practical in the midst of a busy home life.5
Tablet-based practice often fits this bill and also benefits the Speech Pathologist.
Whereas traditional types of practice rely on the parent to report how and when the child completed their activities, computer-based practice can allow the Speech Pathologist to monitor home practice directly.
Working with your Speech Pathologist
Many Speech Pathologists organise and recommend home practice ideas as part of their therapy sessions for children with speech sound disorders.
However, if your Speech Pathologist doesn’t bring it up, be sure to ask for suggestions.
They will be able to review your child’s goals with you, including which sounds to work on, in what way, and for how long.
Your Speech Pathologist will likely be pleased to discuss this, as supportive and engaged parents are a key part of successful therapy.
How Speech Frog can help
If you are a parent or a Speech Pathologist interested in increasing and improving your speech therapy home practice, consider using Speech Frog as a tool to address target sounds at home.
Speech Frog is a fun, engaging, game-based platform that can help improve the attainment of therapy goals for both children and Speech Pathologists.
Speech Pathologists use the platform to create a program of practice for their clients between therapy sessions.
The selected words and options are then magically transformed into fun, engaging games that kids can play in their own time at home.
While children are playing, Speech Frog’s intelligent AI provides feedback on their speech and allows them to progress through levels or earn rewards.
It turns tedious practice into engaging play!
And while children play through the various games, Speech Frog records their speech and sends valuable data back to their Speech Pathologist.
Speech Frog then allows their Speech Pathologist to listen to recordings of their practice so that they can assess their accuracy and improvement.
These features make Speech Frog a convenient and effective improvement on traditional home-based practice for children, parents, and Speech Pathologists alike.
Mary Alice Keller
- Harel, D., Byun, T., & Hitchcock, E. (2015). Social, Emotional, and Academic Impact of Residual Speech Errors in School-Aged Children: A Survey Study. Seminars in Speech and Language, 36(04), 283-294. doi:10.1055/s-0035-1562911
- Parents as “Speech Therapists”: What a New Study Shows. (n.d.). Retrieved July 15, 2020, from http://www.hanen.org/Helpful-Info/Articles/Parents-as–Speech-Therapists–What-a-New-Study-S.aspx
- Beukelman, D. R. (2010). Impact of Parental Record Keeping and Computer-Led Practice. Journal of Medical Speech-Language Pathology, 18(4), 104-108.
- Gačnik, M., Starčič, A. I., Zaletelj, J., & Zajc, M. (2018). User-centred app design for speech sound disorders interventions with tablet computers. Universal Access in the Information Society, 17(4), 821-832.
- Sugden, E., Munro, N., Trivette, C. M., Baker, E., & Williams, A. L. (2019). Parents’ experiences of completing home practice for speech sound disorders. Journal of Early Intervention, 41(2), 159-181.