From the archives...
A mom posted the following question on the (now discontinued) LOE Forum.
I have a 3 y/o son who has a lot of trouble pronouncing /S/.
I have used your ideas from your teaching videos to help my older daughter, 5, learn to say /th/.
I'm having some trouble describing the /s/. I'm sure this is normal for a 3 y/o boy but his vocabulary is pretty extensive and it's funny because he never pronounces /s/. So the other day he said, "I found a bug, we need to invedigate dit." I'm trying to help with this.
First, you are right that it's pretty normal. Young kids are still developing phonemic awareness - that is, recognition of different sounds and how they work together to make words - and may not yet even notice the difference between some sounds. Or, after they do hear it, they may not yet understand how to produce it in their mouths (that was me as a kid - even after I could hear /s/ accurately I had trouble forming it correctly).
Are you using Foundations? In lesson 14 there is a Speech Tip specifically about this with suggestions on how to clarify. It also points you to Wayne Secord's book Eliciting Sounds if you want further guidance.
One thing I remember finding helpful in learning to pronounce this sound was practicing with words in which it followed a T (like "what's," "pants"). The placement of the tongue is similar in the two sounds - you just have to drop the tip of it a bit after the T - so it may be easier to figure out where to place the tongue for /s/.
Does this help?
Yes, I'm using Foundations but with his older sister. He does sit in with us, which is why i'm working with him. He likes the tactile handwriting cards...this morning we were practicing and I heard him repeating the strokes.
We have just started Foundations A, we haven't gotten to lesson 14 but I will take a look and see. Thank you for your help. The idea of adding /s/ at the end of words ending in /t/ is brilliant..thank you. You're a big help.
Another parent using LOE added her thoughts:
I am not a speech therapist but I have been researching resources on the internet to use with my youngest child who is 3 1/2. In addition to the phonemic awareness activities I have used with my three older children in Essentials and Foundations A and B, I have also found this website to be highly useful: mommyspeechtherapy.com/?page_id=55 . The lady who runs the website is a speech therapist. She also has an app available (Little Bee Speech) that I have purchased and plan to use with my son over the summer and next school year (in the meantime, my 6 year old daughter has fun playing the games and reading the stories on the app). I found her blog long before she developed the app. According to her norms chart, the /s/ sound may not be fully mastered until age 5 if that gives you any reassurance.
Note: Additional developmental norms charts and guidance about language development milestones can be found on the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website: https://www.asha.org/SLP/schools/prof-consult/norms/