How to make the “r” sound – seven easy steps…

How to make the “r” sound – here are some quick steps to help your child, from your local speech therapist…

What your child is doing is very common in young children and these easy steps will help your child with how to make the “r” sound.  This is one of the hardest sounds and last to develop and may still get better on its own until the age of six years.  It is likely that your child has got used to putting their tongue in the wrong place when they are making this sound and you will need to get them to change this and then help them to integrate this into their normal speech.  Here are some easy steps so you can help your child…

How to make the “r” sound – step one:

Get your child to move their tongue up to the roof of their mouth   I help children to do this by asking them to pretend that they are a dog and make a “grrrrrrr” noise and to make a really long sound.  They will need to curl their tongue up to the top of their mouth.  You could also ask them to tickle the top of their mouth.

How to make the “r” sound – step two:

Once they can make the sound they will need to practise making the sound and joining it up to another sound.  Usually we try to join the sound up to a vowel sound.  Try getting your child to say the following:

“roo” (rhymes with blue)

“row” (rhymes with toe)

“row” (rhymes with cow)

“rar” (rhymes with car)

“roar” (rhymes with pour)

“ree” (rhymes with tea)

This is quite difficult and don’t be worried if it takes your child a while to manage this.

How to make the “r” sound – step three:

Once they can do this the next stage is to try to make the sound in a word for example “ring”.  Practise saying words that start with the “r” sound.  Some words to practise with are:  ring, rope, wrap, ride, red, rock.  It is better to start with short single syllable words and build up to longer words.

How to make the “r” sound – step four:

Once your child is managing the sound in words it’s time to move on to putting a couple of words together.  You should now practise two-word phrases for example:  red car, big rock, tight rope, horse ride etc.

How to make the “r” sound – step five:

Next move on to saying more words together in a short sentence for example “the car was going down the road“, “the boy threw a rock into the sea”, “the man was riding on a horse”, “he walked on the tight rope“.

How to make the “r” sound – step six:

Now make it harder by practising using more than one “r” word in a sentence.  For example, “I was riding over a red gate”, “He put a rope over the railing” etc.

How to make the “r” sound – step seven:

Finally, you can practise with your child when having conversations.  At first it should be when you are just sitting down concentrating on talking.  Chat about anything and when you hear your child say a word starting with “r” but pronouncing it as a “w” e.g. wed, you should say “Is it wed or red?”.  Let them have a go at this and then praise them for having a go.  If they manage to use the “r” sound spontaneously also praise this.  Over time and with practise your child’s confidence should grow and you will be able to remind them when they are doing harder things such as reading or when they are emotional.  You will know that your child can finally use this sound when you no longer have to correct or remind them.

This process can take varying amounts of time depending on factors such as how much practise they have, how determined they are, how capable they are of hearing when they have got it right and other factors.

If your child is finding this hard or you need support feel free to get in touch

Good luck.


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