How To Say R & Teaching Cues

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How To Say R

R is difficult to say as well as explain. What makes it even harder, you cannot see how to say R just by looking at someone.

To learn how to make the R sound we must know what each articulator (tongue, lips, teeth, breath, jaw, and voice) does. R is a very difficult sound to say so please review this section. It will greatly help during the teaching phase. 

Tongue: The tongue is the most important part of R. The sides of the tongue rest on the top back molars. Say R now and feel this. The tongue tip is either pointed up or down. I don't give much importance to the tongue tip. Instead, the middle of the tongue does the heavy lifting. When saying R, the middle of the tongue flattens out and bunches up at the same time. The means, the edges of the tongue touch the top, back molars, but the center/middle bunches up in a ball and almost touches the roof of the mouth.

Say R and try this! This is THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF R!

Lips: The lips are the second most important part. Many children will round the lips when saying R making the R sound like W. To say R correctly, the lips should be in a neutral position or in a slight smile.

Teeth: The teeth have a VERY SLIGHT gap to allow for air flow. Say R again and feel what your teeth do.

Jaw: The jaw must be up and centered.

Breath: Airflow is continuous. It does not stop.

Voice: R is a voiced sound which means the voice box is turned on.  Say R while touching your throat. If you feel buzzing, you are doing it right!

Printable Sheet


How to use this section:

I will introduce all cues that I find helpful. Please read and become familiar with each one. You will not use all of them. Instead, when you are ready to start practicing, you will try a few and figure out which ones are most helpful for your child. Most likely, you will use a combination of a few. Please refer back to this section as needed!

Speech therapists use a variety of cues during therapy including tactile (touch), verbal (words), and visual (visual models/mirrors) to elicit a correct sound production. Below are the most useful cues for R.


  1. Smile when saying /r/ to encourage your child not to round lips
  2. Point up to encourage child to raise middle of tongue up
  3. Pretend your hand is your tongue and move it front to back. This will encourage your child to move their tongue back.


  • Say “smile when saying /r/”
  • Say “tongue up”
  • Say “tongue back”
  • Say “touch back teeth with tongue”
  • Say “tight sound”
  • Say "use tongue not lips"


  1. Touch corners of mouth to prevent lip rounding
  2. Gently push up on child's jaw (while keeping head stable and forward facing), behind chin to encourage child to lift tongue up

Pick and choose which cues work best for your child. You do not have to use any or maybe you need all of them.

Printable Sheet

What's Next

Now that your know how to say R and what cues are helpful, head over to Teach R to start practicing with your child. 

› How To R


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