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r sound

‘r’ is a tricky sound. It typically develops around 5 years of age. It is normal for children to replace ‘r’ with ‘w’ until about 5 years of age. For example, a child might say “wed” for red.

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

  • Make pirate sounds “arrrghh”, “errrr-uhhhh” = rrrrrrr. 
  • Say it with a smile to help your child not make a “w” sound. 
  • Producing a loud, growly ‘r’ sound to begin might be helpful.  
  • If your child is unable to say the ‘r’ sound, focus on modelling, repeating and emphasising words containing ‘r’ (e.g. ring, read, right). 
  • Give lots of specific praise for trying the sound – e.g. ‘fantastic ‘r’ sound’, ‘you said ‘r’ really clearly.  

Activity ideas for practicing ‘r’ 

  • Find objects around the house that have the ‘r’ sound e.g. red, rice, roof, rain. 
  • Pretend that you and your child are wild animals and “grrrowl” like a bear, “rrrroaarr” like a tiger and bark like a dog “rrruff”
  • Make robots out of old boxes, have a running race and talk about what the robot can do 

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. ‘r’ clusters such as ‘gr’, ‘dr’, ‘tr’, ‘pr’ and ‘kr’ (e.g. “truck” ) are even trickier and can take longer to learn.

Last updated 15 Dec 2023