The /ch/ sound is actually a combination of the /t/ and the /sh/ sound. To make the sound, begin with your teeth together and bring the tip of your tongue to the small ridge just behind the front teeth. The corners of the lips are puller together so the lips pucker. This is a voiceless stop consonant, which means that the sound comes from air that travels through the mouth and is stopped by the tip of the tongue touching the roof of your mouth behind your teeth before it is released from the mouth. Your vocal cords do not vibrate during the /ch/ sound.
Kids can begin to develop this sound at around age three and a half, but it is still within the normal range of development for children to continue developing the sound through age seven. However, if your child is reaching seven and still has trouble pronouncing the /ch/ sound or using it in words and conversation, it is highly recommended that you seek the advice of a licensed speech-language pathologist. The sooner you can identify and address a small issue, the better chance you have of fixing it and preventing it from becoming a much larger and more difficult challenge for you and your child.
Practicing articulation with your child is a great way to spend time together and to stimulate your child’s language development. Here are a few speech therapy tips for you and your child to practice at home or with the help of a speech pathologist:
- Verbal cues
Since the /ch/ sound is a combination of two other sounds, the /t/ sound and the /sh/ sound, a great technique to help your child make the sound is to have them say the /t/ and the /sh/ sounds back to back. For example, the phrase “meet ship” begins to sound like “me chip” the faster you say it. Encourage your little one to try this. It will make them more familiar with saying the sound. Once they can make the sound by itself, have the combine it with vowels to make simple syllables and then move on to words and sentences.
- Visual/Tactile cues
Many kids already know the /ch/ sound as the “choo choo” sound. Help them remember this when they make the sound by moving your arm up and down with your hand in a fist like a train conductor. Your child can do it too as they pronounce the sound! Another fun motion that reminds kids what the sound is like is to sneeze. The big “aahh-CHOO” helps them say the sound as well. If you demonstrate the sneeze into a tissue or your elbow, you can teach your child how to reduce the spread of germs at the same time!
- Awesome /ch/ Activity
Start a Cha Cha Choo Choo with your family! Create a conga line and dance around the house alternating between embodying a human choo choo train and a cha-cha dancing family. This is a great way to stay active and practice the /ch/ sound at the same time!