It can be normal for children to drop off ‘s’ from ‘s’ blend words such as “stop”, and “snake” until 4 years of age. They might say “poon” for spoon. Some children will mark the ‘s’ sound but drop off the second sound in the blend (e.g. “sake” for snake).
You can help your child produce ‘s’ cluster by trying the following strategies:
- practice making the snake sound in play
- you can try backward chaining e.g. snail = nail à s…nail à snail
Modelling and repeating words that have the ‘s’ cluster in play:
- play snap
- snip out pictures of snails, snakes and snowmen
- pretend to sneak around the house or have a picnic with toys and give them “snacks”, have a “snuggle” and out them to bed for a “snooze”.
- use toys to ‘smell’ flowers and talk about what they are smelling then give a smooch to the toys
- draw or colour smiley faces
- play a big and small sorting game using objects
- make a bowling game with bottles and a ball, and ‘smash’ them down
- play ‘stop’ and go with cars, balls or have a running race or jumping game
- put stickers on paper or use sticky tape or scissors and glue - encourage child to say ‘stick it on’
- use stamps - encourage child to say ‘stamp on the paper’ etc.
- stars- talk about the stars at night
- have an egg and spoon race and talk about what you are doing, e.g. be careful with the ‘spoon’
- read Spot books together, taking turns to talk about what Spot is doing or where he is going
- draw/glue spots on a dinosaur and colour in the spikes, colour / draw spiders etc
- dig with the spade in the sandpit or garden
- take turns playing “I spy…” or “spot the…”
- play with a spinning top and talk about it spinning fast or slow
Children generally have more success with ‘s’ clusters starting with ‘sn’ and ‘sm’. Starting with these ‘s’ cluster can generalise across to other ‘s’ cluster.
If your child is struggling with those ‘s’ cluster, then they may have more success with ‘st’ words, as the ‘t’ can support the placement of ‘s’.
Other /s/ clusters include ‘sw’, ‘sk’ , ‘sl’, ‘spr’, ‘scr’, ‘spl’ which may also require practice. 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.