Mr. Potato Head

Mr. Potato HeadMr. Potato Head was one of the first toys in my collection starting out as a Speech-Language Pathologist.  Its a very motivating toy and is a great tool for early vocabulary and concepts.  During play, I usually have all the body parts in my possession.  I present each body part, one at a time, and model the appropriate vocabulary (e,g., “nose”) and wait for the child to imitate me before giving him the toy.  You can also offer two choices (e.g., “nose or hat?”) if the child already has the vocabulary in his repertoire.  To increase the complexity for children who already know body parts, you could also work on the functions of body parts (e.g., “You see with your eye.” “Your hear with your ears.”).  You could ask the child to fill in the blank, “You see with your…” to increase conceptual understanding.  You can also work on spatial concepts while putting on the facial parts (e.g., “Hat on!” “Put it above the nose.” “Put it below the mouth”).

Common Homophones and Activities

A fun way to learn vocabulary is to review homophones, or words with multiple meanings. Starting in second grade, teachers will begin to introduce words with multiple meanings.  Go through each word, such as bat or ball, and discuss all the various meanings of the word.  Have students make sentences with the word, with its various meanings.  While reading, have students discuss what they think the meaning of a word is based on the contextual cues.  Here is a list of common words with multiple meanings that students will encounter in elementary school.  There are also great activities and worksheets that you can use here!

Stuttering in Preschool Children-Fluency shaping techniques

When parents see their young preschool child stutters, it is a cause for alarm for many parents.  Parents who are concerned should consult with a  SLP, at their resident school district, to determine if their child is exhibiting developmental stuttering or may have signs of more severe, chronic stuttering. A trained SLP will have a better idea of how to advise you, and if therapy is needed to address the stuttering.  Often, when children are demonstrating patterns of stuttering, I will begin with the following strategy with students and parents: reduced speech rate (slow, turtle talk) and prolonged speech (stretching out words, especially the vowels).  I will ask parents to model a slower rate of speech, where words are stretched out.  Parents are advised to listen to the content of their child’s speech, not interrupt, and not verbally critique the child’s speech.  These are good beginning points for many preschool aged children, however getting a professional evaluation from an SLP is the best way to figure out what the best strategies are for you child.

Prefixes and Suffixes: Strategies to Learn Vocabulary

It is not realistic to directly address all vocabulary words that students have difficulty with.  Focusing on strategies, including learning the meaning of common prefixes and suffixes, is an excellent way to empower students to figure out  word meaning.  In therapy, we will discuss common prefixes and suffixes of the student’s grade level, or reading level, if that is more appropriate. We will talk about common words with that prefix or suffix.  As homework assignments, I may have the student look for words in reading materials with the prefix and suffix that we worked on, and have them try to figure out the word meaning based on their knowledge of the prefix or suffix.  In my observation, students really enjoy learning these strategies because they feel like they are solving a mini mystery and they feel empowered. Here is a the best list that I have found for prefixes and suffixes, based on grade level.

Prefix Suffix Root list chart PDF

Developmental Table for Consonant Sounds

Welcome back to another school year!  I am excited to start another year as a Speech Pathologist in the public schools.  One of the first few things that a Speech Pathologist will often give teachers or parents is a table that lists general speech sound development.  This allows them to get a general idea of their student or child’s speech development and refer to the Speech Pathologist should they have any concerns.  Based on the Goldman Fristoe, Test of Articulation 2003, these are the ages that a child is expected to master certain sounds:

Age 3:  p, b, m, w, h, n

Age 4:  t, d, k, g, y, f

Age 6:  v, sh, zh, l, th (voiced), ng

Age 7:  s, z, r, the (voiceless), ch, j, wh, and blends dz

In California,  preschool and kindergarten students qualify for public school therapy if they are 6 months delayed.  For grade school children, usually they need to be one year delayed to qualify for public school therapy.  With this said, there are also other factors that a therapist will consider when qualifying or disqualifying a student for speech therapy.  Other factors include: other disabilities presented with articulation, whether the child is an English language learner, and whether there have been informal strategies taken to address this need within the child’s natural context.  Your Speech Pathologist can give you specific information for your child’s school site and environment.