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Teaching Phonics with a speech delay .... HELP!

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    Teaching Phonics with a speech delay .... HELP!

    Afternoon, everyone!

    I have six year old identical twin boys and finally had them tested in speech/language. They were slow to speak, and are still having difficulty with t, c, k, f, g and d sounds. (reports say sound substitutions and fronting, and stimulable for error sounds) Adam was scored as a moderate speech delay, while Thomas is mild. They're set up to start speech therapy this week.

    I'm in a quandary as to how to teach them phonics with this delay. They can't make the sound c .... as in cat. It comes out 'tat', or 'tookie'.

    Has anyone else had a similar issue? I'm beating myself up for not getting them evaluated sooner. And, someone reassure me that this speech therapy will work!
    Plans for 2020-21

    Year 10 of homeschooling with MP

    DD1 - 25 - Small Business owner with a STOREFRONT
    DD2 - 14 - 9th grade - HLS Cottage School/MPOA - equestrian
    DS3 - 12 - 5A Cottage School - soccer
    DS4 - 12 - 5A Cottage School -soccer
    DD5 - 8 - 3A, Cottage School -equestrian and Irish dance
    DS6 - 6 - MP K - home with Momma

    I also have kids with speech disorders/delays. I was most worried about my currently 4 y/o. she was still completely non-verbal at 2 and she was more than 2 1/2 before she could say dada. She's still young for phonics, specifically, but speech therapy is wonderful! She's made huge progress! I think she may have less problems than her older sister just because we've been working on sounds for so long. Good luck!

    My older dd (currently 6) also has some language and speech difficulties. One of the hardest sounds that has been causing problems is her difficulty with r, th, and "ir" versus "or"....think 13 vs 14 or 30 vs 40...they sound exactly the same. She's finally come up with a way to make them sound different but 13/30 still just sound weird. "Th", like in the beginning of the, there, this, that, etc........ are impossible for her. She's come up with doing a kindof z sound. Makes it really difficult for working on how things sound and are spelled are connected. She doesn't always hear the difference between p,d,b which is a challenge since they also get confused for her in writing/reading...

    Something that I've found works for her, sometimes, is I have her look at my mouth and where I put my lips, tongue, make the sound. Or touch the part of my mouth or throat to draw attention to where I'm making the sound. Or i'll have her touch my throat (or hers) to feel for the vibration in sounds that are "voiced" for example to 'see' or 'feel' the difference between p and b. If you want to try it, touch your voice box and say the sound /p/ then /b/. You should feel it vibrate on the /b/ This sort of thing might help for you but also may be totally irrelevant for your issues.

    anyway, just to say that yes, speech difficulties can cause challenges with reading and phonics. Try talking to your speech therapist. They may have good tips or resources for your kids' specific troubles.

    It may be hard but nobody cares more about your kids than you. You'll figure out how to help them even if it takes a few different approaches. You may have to back up with other building blocks for phonics before you can move onto actual "phonics/reading programs. I really needed to work on letter formation (and the fine motor skills needed for that) and phonemic awareness for her to be able to hear sounds in different locations in the word. She just finally got to First Start Reading during the last half of kindergarten and we still needed more review and practice than is planned in the program. I'm hoping to make it through FSR this school year with all the extra readers that have been added. It'd be great if we make it to Story Time Treasures but like others have said it's a marathon, not a sprint. Try not to compare your path to others. Some people have found that working on phonics actually helped their kid's speech and vice versa. Good luck!



      First, it is not too late. Do not worry. Maybe you thought their speech issues would resolve. This is understandable, because sometimes they do!

      The good news is that you obtained individualized, professional evaluations of both boys' articulation difficulties. Soon they will receive help. You can assure your twins that you will all work together, so both boys can speak well and read well. If you want, you can apologize to your boys for not getting help sooner. Then be released of the regret and press on. After all, you have work to do!

      You will want to make the most of the therapy sessions.

      Some suggestions:

      1. Plan on Therapy "Homework."

      Incorporate this into your homeschool schedule. If you can reinforce the speech therapy with 10-15 minute daily sessions, your boys will make more rapid and lasting progress.

      2. Attend Therapy Sessions.

      If your presence would not interfere with the therapy, ask whether the therapist will allow you to attend all (or even occasional) therapy sessions. I did this silently from the corner of the therapy room, as if "invisible." If my child looked to me, I redirected the gaze back to the therapist without a word. I sat with a notepad and gained many great ideas for repeating the simple techniques at home. Do not be intimidated by any of this. Like anything else, your boys speech sounds simply need good instruction followed by practice, practice, practice.

      In our situation, my twins received PT, OT, and speech in the same facility. I observed one twin in one therapy, while the other attended sessions in another. If your boys receive only back-to-back speech therapy, you might consider having a friend or grandparent stay with one in the waiting room, while you observe the other.

      3. Ask for More Homework.

      Many parents consider therapy nothing more than "drop off" sessions. The therapist will greatly appreciate your sincere desire to help them at home! Ask for weekly goals with activities to help meet the goals. Ask specifically for ways to improve your boys speech related to your own phonics instruction.

      4. Whittle Your Schedule.

      Give yourself plenty of time to devote to this right now. Read about speech articulation online or in resources recommended by your Speech & Language Therapist.

      5. Integrate

      Think of ways to integrate speech exercises into some portions of their homeschooling. For example, my son had many articulation errors (Weiss Intelligibility 50%). He also slurred all words together with a rushed rate of speech. When he recited large pieces, such as the Apostles' Creed, he articulated poorly and "mushed" all of the words together.

      To remedy this when he was a little younger than your boys, we recited each word individually, working backwards. I first wrote the Creed on an index card, then gave him the last word to repeat after me, one at a time. I worked my way backwards through each word in the creed. I wanted him to hear every word separately and say each word clearly. When we finished with each word beginning from the end, we recited together forward from the beginning, seeking the same clarity with which we spoke each word in isolation.

      You could do this with other recitations to emphasize speech (e.g, days of the week - begin with Saturday & move backward, then recite forward). If his sounds are limited to select words, place these on individual flash cards for your own easy access. Review the cards one at a time.

      With all of this, work face to face with the child. Turn off any outside noise (radio, tv). Hold the card so you can read it, but low enough so he can see your face. Encourage him to watch your lips. Exaggerate slightly, if needed.

      6. Emphasize Success

      Be sure to chart each child's small success, reward the progress, and enjoy watching improvement! Your own enthusiasm will encourage their efforts.

      7. Focus on Ear Training/Phonics

      I loved CelticaDea's post! Our experience was similar: speech therapy boosted phonics; phonics boosted speech therapy.

      Given your twins' mutual articulation difficulties, consider reducing the amount of time they spend speaking to each other for a time. Substitute good audio resources. Consider the inexpensive Dover edition of Aesop with audio CD or A Child's Garden of Verses CD (both included in Simply Classical Level C).

      Whenever possible, work individually with each boy for phonics and speech. Have the other listen to a well-articulated audio book or music at that time.

      Finally, even as you do all of this, take time to enjoy other aspects of life. Isolated speech exercises can be rather narrow! Play ball, swim, hike, explore. Allow the twins to be 6-year-old boys. Feel free to share other aspects of their schooling together, such as Art Cards, Science books, or read-alouds, without pointing out every possible speech sound.

      Keep us posted!


      Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child
      Cheryl Swope, M.Ed., with Foreword by Dr. Gene Edward Veith


        Thank you all so very much. I just needed a little reassurance and guidance!

        You ladies are the best.
        Plans for 2020-21

        Year 10 of homeschooling with MP

        DD1 - 25 - Small Business owner with a STOREFRONT
        DD2 - 14 - 9th grade - HLS Cottage School/MPOA - equestrian
        DS3 - 12 - 5A Cottage School - soccer
        DS4 - 12 - 5A Cottage School -soccer
        DD5 - 8 - 3A, Cottage School -equestrian and Irish dance
        DS6 - 6 - MP K - home with Momma



          Hi Diana,
          My training is in Speech-Language Pathology, and I worked in the public schools for a few years before feeling called to homeschool our children. It sounds like your boys have the phonological process of "fronting", like you said, substituting t/k and d/g. This does impact the way kids spell and learn their phonics, but one of the first things your boys' SLP will (likely) do is use auditory bombardment and auditory discrimination to get your boys to hear the difference between t/k and d/g. Right now, they probably do not hear their errors because in their head, they know what they mean! Once they are able to hear their errors, then you work on making accurate productions, and then they work on self correction. The main time you are likely to experience difficulty with spelling/phonics is during the first auditory phase. Once they can "hear" the difference, you should see an improvement in other subjects. I hope this is helpful, and please be encouraged, that fronting is a common speech disorder and your child's SLP likely has much experience treating it! Ask her plenty of questions on what you can do at home to generalize their skills. Good luck!

          Pax et bonum,

          We are a Catholic military family, and find homeschooling fits with our transient lifestyle so well! I am happy to have found Memoria Press after trying many different things.
          dd (10), dd (8), dd (6), dd (4), dd (2)


            My son was diagnosed with a very similar articulation speech delay just before four years old. His delay was classified a severe and he could not pronounce most of the sounds in the English language. I wondered if he would ever speak normally, and how one would teach the sounds the letters make to a child who could not pronounce those sounds correctly.

            He spent about eighteen months in group therapy and made very little progress. I finally got him a private therapist that specialized in articulation, and my son learned to make some of the sounds that he previously could not (c, g, etc.). After nine months of twice weekly sessions, he seemed to have a greater ability to make and recognize various sounds, but his speech was still mostly unintelligible to outsiders.

            A few more months passed, and he asked me to teach him to read. He was now 5 years and 7 months. I was apprehensive, but I started him on MP's kindergarten core (including First Start Reading). We followed the lessons exactly, and it was quickly apparent that he needed to see the letters visually AND hear/ say the sound to differentiate the different phonetic sounds. First Start Reading was his speech turning point! His speech immediately and rapidly improved as we moved through the curriculum. It was remarkable.

            Surprisingly, teaching him phonics was what corrected his speech delay. He now speaks very clearly and has only his "r" sound missing. I started teaching him with MP core K in January of 2014. It is now September, and he has improved by 90% in the last nine months. He has not had speech therapy during this time. We have just started MP core 1. It is now crystal clear that until FSR, he had no idea about the differences between many of the phonetic sounds. As soon as he could see them, a light bulb went on. He finally could perceive each sound. I was so surprised and thrilled to learn that teaching phonics thoroughly and systematically is a great boon to the child with speech issues.

            I realize each child and situation is unique. I share my experience in the hope that you feel reassured as you begin phonics instruction.


            daughter MP core 7
            son MP core 3
            son MP core 1
            daughter MP Jr. K
            son 2yo
            Last edited by anastasia5; 09-20-2014, 03:08 AM.