I’ve had many parents ask me when a child should be able to pronounce the R sound. There is no definitive answer, but most therapists will say that approximately 90% of children have mastered the sound by age 6. I will typically start working with a child who is 7 years old or older if they still have difficulty with R.
Why wait until 7 or older?
Many children under age 7 are still developing their R sound and will learn it on their own without any help from a Speech Pathologist. After age 7, however, the chances of learning the sound independently start to decrease.
How can I help my child with his/her R sound?
That’s a pretty tricky question. There are actually 21 different R sounds!See if your child can prounounce the sound in any words at all. Some to try include “car, crayon, radio, rag, carry, earth”. If your child typically substitutes a W for R sound “wadio”, then see if he/she can tell the difference. Play a “W or R” game and have them guess which word you are saying:
Some children respond well to simple prompts like, “use your tongue, not your lips”. Or simply, “that word starts with R”.
Practice being a pirate or a bear “arrrrrrrrr!” or “grrrrrrr” and see if your child can make a good /r/ sound in any circumstance.
If after trying some of these techniques and/or your child is 6 and a half or older, contact your school’s Speech Pathologist for a free evaluation.
Hope that helps!