Speech Therapy Home Practice Tips!

I’m going to discuss speech therapy home practice. What is TOO MUCH? What is TOO LITTLE? 

Having a child with a speech and/or language disorder is stressful enough. However, the stress doesn’t end there. A parent has to get their child an evaluation, review the results, decide on what/where their child will receive services, find a therapist that is the right fit, and THEN support their child's goals at home throughout the week. It’s A LOT!

I hope with these tips, I can ease a little stress :)

Speech therapy home practice is necessary because 30-60 minutes of therapy per week isn’t enough to make fast, significant change for speech/language skills. It just isn't.

To help this, parents have the opportunity to make a big difference in their child’s progress. However, there can be a fine line between too much or too little home practice. I have seen both! It's quite common and it isn’t any parent’s fault!!

Parents want the best for their children, but more often than not, they aren't given any or the correct information. 

So here is goes...let’s set the record straight once and for all!

What is TOO MUCH Speech Therapy Home Practice? 

First of all, how do you know if you are doing too much? 

Well, look at your children and their responses to you.

  • Are they avoiding talking?
  • Are they becoming frustrated?

If you answered "yes," you are doing too much!

Avoidance:

If your child is avoiding answering questions or saying certain sounds in fear of corrective feedback, you are doing too much! You don’t want your child avoiding communication for a million reasons! Communication is how we have fun, express ideas, learn, and grow. If your child is avoiding words or sounds, then they aren’t getting any practice and it is hindering their development!

If this is your child, look at how you are doing speech therapy home practice.

  • Is it fun? 
  • Are you giving positive feedback as well as corrective feedback? 
  • Is he/she making progress and feeling good about it? 

If you answered no to any of those questions, your home program needs tweaking! Speech therapy therapy can be effective as well as fun and positive.

Frustrated: 

If your child gets mad or frustrated when you do home practice, that is not good! Practice should be fun and rewarding. If your child is mad, then you are doing too much.

Below is a common example that will lead to frustration.

Let’s say a child can’t say /s/ correctly. Let’s say a parent corrects this mistake for EVERY /s/ production. This is a lot, especially since /s/ is a common sound in the English language.

This child may be excited to tell a story about school one day, and then when she does, her parent stops her and makes her say /s/ correctly for every sentence. This is NOT GOOD! The child may feel hurt that her exciting story isn’t being taken seriously and the only thing her parent cares about is speech. This is not good for self-esteem and for frustration levels.

INSTEAD, A Parent Should: 

  • Listen to the story and just be a parent. 
  • Later, the parent could say "let’s play “I Spy” together and practice /s/. I love playing “I Spy” and you are getting soooo good at saying /s/. I want to hear how good you are!"

What is WRONG Speech Therapy Home Practice?

Not having guidance for a speech therapy home practice from a speech therapist can be dangerous.

Let's review two examples: 

1. Let's say your child is learning how to say /s/ correctly.

During therapy, the therapist is using tactile (touch), visual, and verbal cues to elicit a correct production at the syllable level, “see.”

It is important to note that:

  • This child can’t say /s/ in words yet. 
  • This child can’t say /s/ without having a therapist, guide their muscles using tactile cues. 
  • This child DEFINITELY can’t say “/s/” just by repeating someone else. 

Now, this child then goes home and says:

  • “Mom, I thee a frog.” 
  • Mom says “don’t say thee, say see.” 

Well, as we know, this child can’t say “see,” without tactile cues. Now, his mom is asking him to do something he literally can’t do! This causes frustration and even embarrassment. Now, his mom doesn’t mean to be upsetting, she wants to help but she isn’t helping the correct way.

Instead of using verbal prompts to practice, she should ask her child’s speech therapist how to practice at home. Maybe, they can practice tongue and jaw placement at night in front of a mirror or practice another facilitating sound.

2. A child is working on answering WH questions:

To help a dad asks his daughter

  • “what did you do at school?” 
  • “Who did you play with?” 
  • “Where did you sit at lunch?” 

These questions are very hard for her. She is working on answering WH questions with a visual right now and these questions are a bit open ended. She doesn’t have the tools to answer them yet. So, she might not answer her dad at all because she can’t or might just avoid the situation all together.

INSTEAD, the dad should practice

  • Asking questions during bedtime stories when he can help by pointing to pictures to help his daughter answer questions. 
  • Or, if he wants to know about his daughter's day (which we all do!), he can ask questions and then provide a choice of answers such as “who did you play with at school? Jane or Jill (her two closest friends)?

What is TOO LITTLE Speech Therapy Home Practice?

How much practice will depend greatly on the child and their level of independence.

Below are 3 different examples:

If a child is just learning how to say a sound and needs a lot of cueing to get a correct production, most likely home practice will be limited...short bursts (a few minutes) a few times a day is usually best. Pay attention to frustration levels and make sure you use the same cues the therapist does!

If a child is farther along in therapy, more practice is better! If a child can say /f/ correctly with a simple reminder such as “use your good /f/,” this can be woven in throughout the day in structured activities such as dinner, playtime, etc...The child won’t be as frustrated because saying /f/ correctly isn’t that hard anymore!

If a child is working on vocabulary, there is always TOO LITTLE practice! Exposure to vocabulary through conversation, reading, games, and playing should happen NATURALLY all day long. HOWEVER, don’t quiz your child on vocabulary all day long (i.e., what’s this?, what does this do?) Instead, model good vocabulary…(i.e., Look at that dog! Dogs bark! Do you like dogs or a different pet?) With those sentences, you expose your child to function and categorization through general conversation. 

If you are looking for more speech therapy home practice ideas, our one-time fee members program, can help! There are lots of functional ideas with lots of tips along the way!

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.


Bridget is an ASHA certified, practicing speech language pathologist. She is passionate about providing parents with information on child speech and language development as well as provide functional, easy activities to do at home! Parents have the power to make a real difference. Follow Bridget at Facebook and Pinterest for more fun!

Author of  child language development eBook series



› Home Practice