Speech Helps

"Brer Rabbit keep on axin im en de Tar-Baby, she keep on sayin nothin, twel presenty Brer Rabbit draw back wid his fis, he did, en blip he tuck er side er de head."

Tell me, does Uncle Remus need speech therapy or does he just need to study his spelling words!  Maybe your child speaks and writes just like Uncle Remus, and you're not sure if he will become a famous writer with a unique linguistic perspective, or that this (dis)ability is really his educational stumbling block! Maybe he has a speech problem.

Correct speech patterns are so important in your child's education. If you cannot speak correctly you will have a difficult time learning to read and spell, because the words on the written page will not correspond with the words in your mind.  Its almost like trying to read a foreign language.

The majority (75% or more) of school age children's speech problems are classified as functional articulation problems.  These children have the physical ability to correctly reproduce the sounds but misarticulate speech sounds.  They may omit sounds (un for sun), substitute one sound for another  (wed for red), distort sounds, or even add unnecessary sounds.

This is good news for homeschool moms because with a little bit of effort, speech improvement can be mixed right in with our daily routines.

Be careful of your own speech habits.  Most of a child's speech is acquired from his parents especially his mother.

All children need help in developing and improving their oral communication skills.  We repeat the same sounds over and over to babies and toddlers, "ba,ba,ba,ba" helping them to acquire language.  Nursery rhymes are a good way for children to participate and also hear many correct repetitions of a sound.

All children do not have speech defects. Many of them merely develop their language skills at a different rate or in a different way.

You may wonder if your child is learning to speak clearly and form sounds correctly. A very simple speech survey can be made by asking your child to count to fifteen, name the different colors, say the nursery rhyme "Jack and Jill", and identify pictures whose name contain the "ch" and "sh" speech sounds.  Make a note of each incorrect sound.  Next, consider your child's age. Many speech books have charts that indicate the age that a child should be able to form each sound. For instance the "hard r" will often develop at a later age than "m" sound.

Not many children need a speech pathologist. If your child has speech difficulties, you may be able to help him yourself.  Below are a few excellent items for use with four year olds and older.

LinguiSystems Catalog.  This catalog specializes in language items. (800)776-4332

Read and Spell by Sound – by: Lorna Shogren Werner, Computer Press, 2911 8th Avenue., W.,  Bradenton, Fl 34205, phone 813-748-4237.  ISBN:1-882183-12-6.  This workbook provides multisensory instruction and may be used as initial reading instruction.  The student may use a mirror to learn the correct phonetic formation for pronouncing standard American English sounds.

Sounds and Letters for Readers and Spellers – by:Jane Fell Greene, Sopris West, http://www.sopriswest.com, (303)651-2829, ISBN#1-57035-126-0.  This 18 unit series of phoneme awareness drills can be used with young children, middle schoolers through adults who are delayed in development of phonemic awareness, reading and spelling. Awareness of phonemes and the ability to reproduce them provides the critical jump start to reading and spelling. This is a book that will grow with your child.

If your child had trouble learning to speak clearly, often he will also have trouble with phonemic awareness. Begin your reading instruction using these books and you will have eliminated potential problems later on.


Randi St. Denis is an educator, popular homeschool speaker, and a seasoned homeschooling mom. Randi works as a consultant to public, private, and homeschool families; providing teaching expertise and assistance for all types of children. You can visit her website at ChicagoHomeschoolExpo.com.

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