How to Help Children Pronounce "C" & "K" Sounds

It's completely normal for a young toddler's speech to be somewhat unintelligible. Hard "C" or "K" sounds typically don't develop fully until ages 5 or 6, and combination "CH" sounds along with the "S" pronunciation of a "C" will be mastered around ages 7 or 8, according to Early Intervention Support. By practicing these sounds and working through oral-motor difficulties, you can help your child pronounce "C" and "K" sounds.

Practice some simple activities with your child to improve pronunciation. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Strengthen the muscles of your child's mouth and tongue by letting him drink through a straw. Make sure your child is not suckling, or putting more than 1/4 of the straw in his mouth. Once your child masters sucking through a straw with thin liquids, try something thicker like yogurt. According to Heidi Hanks, speech and language pathologist, most deficiencies with "K" sounds are due to problems with tongue retraction or oral-motor weakness; sucking through a straw addresses both these issues.

Step 2

Read books with "C" and "K" sounds. Giving your child exposure to these sounds models appropriate pronunciation. Hanks suggests slowing down or emphasizing words with "C" and "K" sounds to bring attention to the target sounds.

Step 3

Have your child lie on his back and say "C" and "K" words. This position typically makes pronunciation a bit easier because the tongue falls to the back of the mouth.

Step 4

Used the "fixed-up one" routine, coined by speech and language pathologist Dr. Caroline Bowen. Say something like, "If I said 'tat' instead of 'cat' it wouldn't sound right, would it? I could fix it up and say 'cat.' Do you hear the fixed-up one? I said 'tat' and fixed it up and said 'cat.'" This method teaches the subtle differences between words but also as it applies to conversation.

Step 5

Practice minimal pairs with your child. Similar to the "fixed-up one" routine, minimal pairs use pairs of words that differ with one sound; for example, "bat" and "cat" is a minimal pair. This activity helps your child realize the small differences in pronunciation between words. Focus on minimal pairs with the target "C" and "K" sounds.

Step 6

Have your child practice gargling water. Similar to lying on the floor, this method helps put your child's tongue in the correct position for making "C" and "K" sounds.

Things You'll Need

  • Books

  • Glass of thin liquid

  • Glass of yogurt

  • Lists of minimal pairs

  • Straw

Tip

If your child continues to struggle with “C” and “K” sounds, make an appointment with a speech and language pathologist. This professional might use other tools, such as a tongue depressor, which helps with proper tongue placement, but should only be used by a certified therapist.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Load comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.