Teach R To Your Child

At this level, you are going to teach your child how to say R correctly. Use all the information you learned in How to Say R to make this process easier.

Teach R 

As I have already said, R is a very difficult sound to say! Instead of giving a step-by-step guide, I will give all the different techniques that have worked for me. Different strategies work differently for every child. Please try a few or all or maybe you will get lucky with the first one :)

Teaching Tips & Techniques

How to Use This Section: First read through each tip to become familiar with them. The first four target positioning. My suggestion is to practice numbers 1-4 with your child.  Reviewing positioning never hurts! Numbers 5-8 are elicitation techniques. This fancy terms means that they are techniques to help your child successfully say the R sound. Since every child is different, not all techniques will work for everyone. Pick one and try it out. If it doesn't work, move on to the next!

1. Smile!: If your child says W for R (i.e., wabbit for rabbit), then this section is not to be missed. When saying the W sound, the lips are rounded (they make the shape of an O). Say the word "water" while looking in a mirror to see how this looks. Have your child join and talk about how the lips are rounded. When saying R, lips are not rounded. Now, say the word "read" while looking in the mirror. Show your child how your lips are NOT rounded. Ask your child to say "read" while looking in the mirror. Your child will most likely round their lips. Point this out and then have him or her say "read" while smiling.  You may have to physically hold the corners of the mouth to keep them from moving inward (i.e., rounding). Tell your child to always "smile" when saying R sounds from now on! If your child doesn't round his/her lips, move on to number 2!

2. Tongue Up With Touch: To make an R sound, the middle of the tongue is tightly bunched up and touching the top middle-to-back part of the mouth. Many times children don't move the tongue up. To help cue your child, I like to take one or two fingers and lightly touch underneath the jaw, behind the chin. This helps to remind them to move their tongue up. Try this while saying the word "read."

3. Tongue Up With Candy: Personally, I prefer number 2. If that doesn't work and it doesn't for some children, try candy. Rub candy, peanut butter, yogurt, or anything your child likes in the middle of the tongue. Then touch the middle top part of their mouth with the same food. Have your child now move the middle of the tongue up to the top of the mouth (match up the sugary spots, ha!) while saying "rrrrr."

4. Sides Up & Air Front: This is a good refresher for all children. The sides of the tongue must rest firmly on the back upper molars. I use the Jumbo mouth here to show a child what this looks like. If you didn't buy it, don't worry! Other therapists use food or candy! Lightly brush a sucker, peanut butter or anything that sticks on the sides of the tongue. Then use a toothpick or cotton swab and touch the teeth. Have your child move the "sweetened sides of the tongue" to their teeth.

With the sides of the tongue up, have your child say R and feel the air come out the front of their mouth. If the sound doesn't sound like R, don't worry! Just focus on the airflow. 

The first four techniques just focused on position. Now, the next four focus on how to get your child to say their sound easily!

5. Grrrr: Tell your child to growl like a bear, "grrrr." If your child can do this, great! Slowly transition to "gr" words such "green," "grass," "grant," and "grease." Once your child becomes an expert with "gr" words, have your child say "grant" with a silent G. The word should sound like "rant." 

6. Th Trick: Tell your child to say a prolonged TH and move their tongue slowly back in their mouth until he or she say R. If your child can do this step, use it to elicit the word "three." Once "three" becomes easy to say, have your child say "three" with a silent TH. It should sound like "ree." If your child can do this, great! He or she said R!

7. Shhh to er: Tell your child to say a prolonged SH and then move their tongue slowly back until you hear an R. It should sound like the word "sure." Once your child has accomplished this, have him or her say "sure" with a silent SH. It should sound like "er."

8. EEEE to er: The vowel "e" is a high, back vowel which means the tongue moves back in the mouth, anchors to our molars and raises a bit. This position is perfect to pair with r. Have your child say a prolonged "eeeee."  While keeping the tongue "frozen" to the teeth, move to "rrrrr." It will sort of sound like "ear." If this technique works for your child, try to shorten "eeeee" portion and prolong the R to the point where your child does not say "e" at all.  

9. Practice: Once your child is able to say R using one of the techniques above, practice saying R within different syllables such as "ra," "roo," "ree," "are," "ir," etc...

Helpful Tips:

  • Bring attention to your tongue and lips when possible. I like to point.
  • Make it fun!


Once your child can say R, move on! 

What's Next

Now that your child knows how to say R and what cues are helpful, head over to Drill Practice & Flashcard Games at the word level to start teaching and 

Don't spend too much time here.

› Teach R


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