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k and g sounds

‘k’ is a short, quiet sound that is made at the ‘back’ of the mouth. It typically develops between 2 – 3 years of age but it is also normal for children to replace ‘back sounds’ like ‘k’ with ‘front sounds’ such as ‘t’ up to the age of 3 and a half. For example, a child may say “tar” for car. ‘k’ is a tricky sound as it is harder to see than sounds that are at the front of the mouth.

You can help your child produce ‘k’ by trying the following strategies:

  • Encourage your child to open their mouth wide and keep the front of their tongue down and say the sound in the back of their mouth. Sometimes tipping their head back can help as well.
  • Producing a loud, growly ‘g’ sound to begin might be helpful so that your child can ‘feel’ where the sound is made - you can have your child feel your throat/neck.
  • A mirror can be used for visual feedback.
  • A finger can be used to gently hold the front of the tongue down while saying the sound.
  • A toothbrush can be used in place of a finger at teeth brushing time to encourage production of ‘k’.
  • A hand shape cue can be used to show the ‘open mouth’ position.
  • Try lying on the floor as gravity can help the tongue to go to the back of the mouth.
  • If your child is unable to say the ‘k’ sound, focus on modelling, repeating, and emphasising words containing ‘k’ (e.g. cow, key, car)
  • Give lots of specific praise for trying the sound – e.g. “great ‘k’ sound”, “you said ‘k’ at the back of your mouth”.

Activity ideas for practicing ‘k’

  • Find objects around the house that have the ‘k’ sound e.g. car, cow, can, key
  • Play outside with a ball - catch it, bounce it, roll it, throw it and kick it.
  • Have a tea party of with lots of cups. Use play dough to make cakes or cookies – you can cook, cut and put candles on top.

Once your child is able to produce ‘k’, you can encourage them to turn their voice on and make it a loud sound to produce ‘g’.

It will take time and practice for children to develop their speech sounds. Children may be able to say a sound on its own but will take time to put it into words. Longer words will be trickier. It will take time and practice to be able to say their new sound in everyday conversation.

Some words are more complex because they have harder sounds, multiple sounds or different combinations of sounds.

Last updated 06 Feb 2024