How to Teach the R Sound in Speech Therapy
The R sound can be one of the most challenging to produce. This speech sound issue, known as rhotacism, may have detrimental effects on children’s speech intelligibility levels.
If your child is having difficulty with the r sound, the sooner they receive speech therapy the greater their chance for success. This holds especially true if you start early and continue working on it throughout childhood.
A great place to begin is with a screening form that can identify the specific mistakes your student is making with this sound. This will enable both of you to get at the source of the issue.
Common r sound errors include initial and medial R errors, vocalic R Errors, and Blends.
When teaching the r sound to students, some may need to consider lip placement. Sometimes retracting the lips can eliminate w in words that begin with “rabbit” instead of “wabbit.”
Some students need to develop the ability to distinguish r from other sounds such as l and m. Elicitation techniques like minimal pairs and mass practice can be very successful when teaching this sound.
This comprehensive resource helps students master the r sound through evidence-based, step-by-step methods. It includes a workbook with worksheets and activities for accurate productions, as well as topics such as isolation, syllables, words, 2-word phrases, carrier phrases, sentences, oral reading, and carryover to connected speech.
Heather from Speech Help for Kids teaches her students/clients how to say the R sound by holding a spoon near their side of mouth. To make this sound, they need to have their tongue flat and partially curve up for proper pronunciation. She uses this technique several times during each session in order to guarantee they have proper tone and positioning when making this vowel.
SLPs can also teach their students/clients to make the r sound by encouraging them to chew on their tongue. Doing this exercises helps strengthen the muscles in their throat and jaw, which are necessary for producing this sound.
Another helpful tip is for your client to focus on how their neck flexes and pulls their lips back toward the front of their face. Afterward, they can pay attention to where their tongue is positioned for creating an “r” sound.
Finally, to develop fluency with the r sound, practice saying it independently and in syllables at least 3-4 times daily. Doing this will give them time to become familiar with the sound in a controlled environment before applying it in real life situations.