How to Teach the K Sound & G Sound

How to Teach the K Sound & G Sound

I recently had a reader ask how to help her 4 1/2 year old daughter say the /k/ and /g/ sounds. These sounds can be tricky for little ones. Typically most children have mastered the /k/ and /g/ sounds by about 3 1/2 years of age. In this post I wanted to share some methods and excercises that can help kids with these sounds.

1. Use a tongue depressor (This method should be done by a certified Speech-Language Pathologist!)

With a tongue depressor push the tongue into the correct position for a /k/ or /g/ sound. While holding the tongue in the correct position have the child try to say the /k/ sound. If the child typically says the /t/ sound for the /k/ sound the tongue depressor will hold the tongue tip down and the child will end up producing the /k/ sound. The same goes for stimulating the /g/ sound. Allow the child to feel what it feels like to produce the /k/ sound correctly, then slowly pull the tongue depressor forward and out as the child continues to try to say the /k/ sound. The tongue depressor method is my favorite, and generally very successful. Some children however are unable to produce the sound when the tongue depressor comes out of their mouths. Keep working on it. Sometimes however, this may indicate oral-motor weakness.

2. Drink from straws

When a client struggles to produce the /k/ and /g/ sounds it is usually due to difficulties with tongue retraction/ oral motor weakness. Tongue retraction is the ability to elevate the back of your tongue. Difficulties retracting the tongue can be observed when the client drinks from a straw. Suckling a straw (meaning a child puts more than a 1/4” of the straw in their mouths while drinking) is another instance where children exhibit the inability to retract the tongue. If children can be taught to drink from a straw with tongue retraction then they will be able to use that tongue retraction to produce /k/ and /g/ sounds in speech. Refer to my post on Pacifiers and Sippy Cups for more information on how to use a straw to teach tongue retraction for /k/ and /g/ sounds. If a child drinks thin liquids from a regular straw appropriately you can try strengthening the muscles even more using thick liquids like yogurt and pudding. This is referred to as a thickened liquids program. Be sure to consult an SLP if you are interested in trying the thickened liquids program.

3. The Fixed-Up One Routine from Dr. Caroline Bowen

Children with speech delays often have difficulty self monitoring their own speech. Dr. Caroline Bowen created a routine to teach children how to practice self monitoring their speech in a positive way.

For example she says:

“Say to your child, ‘Listen to this. If I accidentally said tar when I wanted to say car it wouldn’t sound right. I would have to fix it up and say car wouldn’t I? Did you hear that fixed-up-one? I said tar then I fixed it up and said car.”

Exercises like these really make a difference when you are ready for your child to start generalizing what they have learned into conversation.

4. Read books with lots of /k/ and /g/ sounds

Try to provide lots of good models of the /k/ and /g/ sounds for your children by giving them as much exposure to the sounds as possible. A good way to do this is to sit down with your children and read books that have lots of these sounds in them. It’s o.k. to slow down and overemphasize these sounds. Great books to use are letter books that target the sound you are working on.

Other Methods Commonly Used:

1. Lay on your back on the floor

This method is used because when you lay on your back on the floor your tongue typically falls into the back of your mouth. So producing a /k/ or /g/ while lying on the floor should to be easier.

5. Gargle water

Gargling water is another technique suggested. It is used because when you gargle water the back of your tongue is positioned correctly for the /k/ and /g/ sound. It can be successful if the client has the motor skills to gargle water.

*Remember, once you have had success getting your child to say the sound correctly it still takes time for them to say it correctly in conversation. They need to practice it at the word level first. I like the child to have success with a list of at least 20 words. Then they need to master putting words into sentences! Finally, I have them practice the sounds in short stories we have written together using the 20 target words we’ve practiced. Then we practice the sounds in conversation. This is the pattern that the word, sentence and story cards follow on the worksheets page.

These are just a few ideas and hopefully they will help any of you that might have kids in need of mastering these sounds. Best of luck!


  1. I loved this! These are all the techniques we used with the little girl I worked with when we were focusing on /k/ and /g/, it’s cool to see that information shared for all to read.

    I will be checking out the rest of your blog shortly, what a great idea!

  2. Great blog Heidi! I just wanted to add something to your /k/ & /g/ post since I worked with this so much with my preschool caseload! Similar to the gargling water, I’d have the child try to make the “gritty” sound you might add to the word, “yuckkkkhh”. If they can do this, then I’d have them practice it a bunch. Within the session, we would try to “bounce” it and go, “kkkkhh”, “kkkh”, “kkh” until they could shorten it to just a /k/. I’d also cue them to ‘open your mouth big,’ modeling it with eye contact, so they’d have to actually close their jaw or lift their tongue really far to make the /t/ substitution. Hope this helps some of your mommy’s or other SLP’s working with little ones!

  3. Thank you for putting this blog together…it is awesome! I would love to see a blog about the /m/ sound. Any chance you can put one together? /m/ seems so easy, but my little guy keeps sticking his teeth out on his lips, like you would for /f/. Thanks!

  4. Thanks : ) What a great site. I work with many, many speech children. Towards the end of the year I am always looking for new techniques to keep them going! AWESOME!!!

  5. My little one has a lot of trouble making this sound… to the point that I have to think about most things he says. He is almost incomprehensible to most people for other speech issues. This will help. Thanks.

  6. Dear Heidi, just want to say how grateful I’m to your effort in putting this post together. My little boy had great difficulty pronouncing a lot of the sounds at close to 4 years of age and we’ve also been to Speech Therapy. Unfortunately we didnt have a great deal of good therpist to choose from and little progress was achieved. I’ve been using the straw and gargle water practice a week ago, today, for the first time, he said “car”, “key” perfectly. This brought me great deal of joy and my little man is feeling so proud of hiself. Now he cant stop saying “car”, “cow”, “key”. THANK YOU! We are now needing to work on the S initials now, and hopefully I can find some information as helpful as yours.

  7. Grace,

    I am so happy to hear about your success with the /k/ sound! For help with the /s/ sound try reading my post “My Child Has a Lisp, Should I be Concerned?”. There is a lot of useful information there for teaching the /s/ sound. You can also find /s/ pictures on my worksheets page to practice at home.

    I hope this will be helpful!

    🙂 Heidi

  8. Hello Heidi

    Wow, thank you so much for these useful tips.

    I am Mum to three young boys aged 7, 6 and almost 5. My eldest and youngest are both on the Autistic Spectrum.

    My youngest son finds it impossible to make the K and G sounds and it frustrates him no end. We have been waiting almost a year now for an appointment to see a Speech Pathologist.

    I have tried to use the tongue depresser technique but he has a very strong gag reflex and we haven’t had any success with it yet.

    I persivere and I will try the straw as well.

    Thanks again for your wonderful tips.

    Michelle 🙂

  9. Sorry Heidi

    I meant to add that he sometimes substitutes H or T for the letter C or K depending where in the word the letter is.

    for example car would be har and looking would be looting.

    Michelle 🙂

  10. Michelle,

    I am sorry to hear you have had so much trouble getting into see an SLP. Since your youngest son has a sensitive gag reflex I would lean more toward the straw drinking for reinforcing tongue retraction for the /k/ and /g/ sounds. Start with a spill proof straw cup like I recommend on my post about pacifiers and sippy cups. The reason I recommend this cup is because the lid acts as a natural lip guard. You may also try any thermos or water bottle with a straw you can shorten. Have your son drink almost exclusively from whatever cup you choose. Watch very closely as he drinks to see how much of the straw he is putting in his mouth. If he is drinking from more than just the tip of the straw (about 1/4 inch) than he is suckling the straw and therefor not getting the tongue retraction he needs. Another sign of muscle weakness or a sign that they are putting too much of the straw in their mouth is a straw that has been chewed on.

    If it appears he is drinking with too much of the straw in his mouth it is time to shorten the straw a bit so he naturally cannot put as much of the straw in his mouth. After you have introduced the cup allow him to become comfortable with it. Then cut 1/4 inch of the straw off. Reintroduce the cup. Allow him to become comfortable with it again, then cut another 1/4 inch off. Do this until he only has only 1/4 of straw left he can drink from. By the time he is drinking from only 1/4 inch of straw his tongue will be retracted appropriately. With lots of practice he should have the sufficient tongue strength to make the /k/ and /g/ sounds.

    You may try making the sounds with him immediately following drinking from a straw. If you feel he still lacks the strength he needs you may try having him drink a thick liquid like yogurt through a straw (if you are using a spill proof cup remove the part of the straw that prevents it from spilling). Again, be sure he is only drinking from the tip of the straw or you will be strengthening the wrong part of the tongue.

    Let me know how things go. And don’t hesitate to ask if you have any more questions. Good luck!

  11. Thank you for this post! My 6 year old daughter has never been able to pronounce /k/ /g/ sounds. We homeschool and so do not have access to typical speech therapy. I am now hopeful that I will be able to at least begin to help her at home. Using the tongue depressor technique (with a spoon) today she was able to correctly pronounce the /k/ and /g/ sound for the first time ever! She was not able to continue to pronounce it correctly without my help and without the spoon holding her tongue down but having heard her make the sounds correctly at all gives me hope!

  12. Ranni,

    I’m glad it helped. Just keep using that spoon until she gets it, and she will get it. Good luck!

  13. Hi Heidi,
    My son is 4 and is suppose to start school this year.We’ve been seeing a speech thearpist about every three weeks now for 4 months.(took almost a year to see and get one)..
    He has the inital l and final t sounds down..We’re actually using them properly in sentences now..However we are still working on intial “k” sounds…I cant find very many examples of this sound!I have cabbage, camel, Karate, king, kite, kong, cow(as well as cowboy), kid, car, can, corn, comb, coat, key, candy, cap, candle, cup, kitten, carrot, cane, cone, cake, and canoe..I know this may seem like alot but my son can say 12 of these as sentence words, and then he gets bored practicing the same ones over and over..can anyone think of more?
    Thanks, love this blog too!There’s not enough speech therapy help sites…

  14. Gloria,

    I would suggest going to the dictionary and look through the words that start with k or c and see if there are any that stick out to you that would be familiar to your son that you have not already thought of. That’s what I do sometimes. Good luck!

  15. My son is 5 years old. When he says the c in cat, it comes out as chat. The j also is pronounced as a ch. Jet becomes chet. He also has trouble with g. Go becomes jo, goat is joat, etc. We homeschool and could really use your suggestions.

  16. Tracy,

    It sounds like your little guy just needs some help learning to retract his tongue for the /k/ and /g/ sounds. Try some of the suggestions I offer at the top of this post to help him say the /k/ and /g/ sounds. If you are still having trouble after you try these suggestions let me know.

  17. The Wonky Donkey is a wonderful children’s book that helped my daughter generalise /k/ in the middle of words. Hilarious, silly pictures, and the song will be guaranteed to be stuck in your head for weeks (?months) afterwards!
    Love the website – congratulations from a fellow speechie!

  18. It looks so cute. It will definitely be added to my ever growing list of things I’d like to pick up for therapy. Thanks Emily!

  19. Hi Heidi,

    I just stumbled upon your website and am so impressed with your wealth of knowledge and especially your generosity in sharing it! I have a daughter who is turning 3 next month. She is incredibly verbal – she could say over 75 words when she was a year old and can form complex sentences at this point. However she mispronounces the k and the g sounds (as t and d). I am not concerned about this yet but she is becoming increasingly frustrated by the lack of adult understanding when she says things like “kitty” or “car”. Today she made up a silly word and asked me to repeat it. I tried to say it back to her and she said, “no mommy – it ends with an ‘x’!” (pronounced “etts”). She’s actually asked me outright to help her say the k sound correctly. I’ve tried to show her how by putting her tongue at the top of her mouth in the back and she practices and tries but still can’t get it. (I sometimes hear her practicing in her bed over the baby monitor.) Is it too early to try some of the suggestions you have in your post about the k and g sounds? Are they developmentally appropriate for a kid her age? Do you think she’ll figure it out on her own if she’s this determined? I don’t want to stress her out but I also want to give her some constructive suggestions that might make her feel more successful.

    I know this is such a minor issue compared with the many more serious needs of families you work with but I thought I’d just ask in case you could weigh in briefly one way or another.

    Thanks so much!


  20. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
    My son is 4 1/2 and will be 5 in November and we have been working on these sounds forever. After much practice with the straw and gargle technique my little one finally got it. It’s so wonderful to see my little man now smiling from ear to ear with his new found confidence.
    Thanks a million Heidi,

  21. Thanks for sharing Katrina! I love to hear success stories! Give your little guy a high five from me.

  22. Rachel,

    You can absolutely try some of the suggestions I offer on this post. Just be careful with the gargling, you don’t want her to choke. You may even try putting your hand under her chin where it meets her neck and by pushing up you should raise the back of her tongue into the correct position, If she still puts her tongue tip up, try holding it down with your fingers or a tongue depressor. This should result in the correct production of the /k/ sound. Do the same thing for the /g/ sound and then just tell her to turn on her voice. Have her practice the correct production of the sound all by itself multiple times before you practice it on words. Good luck. I know she can do it!

  23. Hi Heidi,
    Thank you so much for this website. My daughter Abby has this speech problem. Her /g/ and /k/ = /d/ and /t/. I have been working on this with her for the last year, but I think it’s been more discouraging for her than anything else. Here recently she just avoids the words she has trouble with all together and this is frustrating to her when she is trying to explain things to me. I just printed out your ideas, thank you! Some of these we have never tried. I’m going to work harder at making this a positive thing for her, and hopefully we will get there! I believe if I am a little more patient and consistent we will see some results.

  24. Hi Heidi

    My little girl (5 yrs old) has always struggled with C and G pronouncing them as T and D – as described above. We have talked to her about the sounds but she cannot say either of them. We have practised a little but I’d not wanted to draw too much attention to this as she gets frustrated by it. I was hoping that it would be something she would catch onto as she gets older.

    Until reading your blog, for some reason, I’d not twigged on that the difficulty with these two letters were related!

    My daughters reception teacher recently recommended that I rang a health visitor. The health visitor advised that I should avoid bringing too much attention to the problem and not focus on saying the specific letters too much but just play games with words that start with the C and G.

    She said that if in a few months there is no improvement then to call back, and that she doesn’t think it is a case that would require a referral to a speech therapist at the moment as she is still young and she is likely just to grow out of it.

    Do you think this course of action will help – or should I be trying more techniques?

    Many thanks

  25. Hi Kerry,

    I disagree with your health visitor. By 5 your daughter should be saying the /k/ and /g/ sounds correctly. For more information on when sounds are developed you can read my post, “When are Speech Sounds Developed.” If she hasn’t self corrected by now her chances of doing so are getting smaller. I would contact a speech therapist for more direction. If you have any more questions please don’t hesitate to ask.

  26. Hi
    My son is 3 will be 4 in 3 1/2 months and he too pronounces the /k/ like /t/ and the /g/ like /d/. But what I find strange is he can say them in the end of a word, like “work” or “dog”. He gags very easily so I know thats the problem. So holding his tounge down doesn’t work. He also prounces /L/ like /w/. But if he blends the /L/ sound he can say it like “sleep”.

  27. Hi Krystal,

    It sounds like your son is making very common errors and may even correct the errors on his own with a little time. With that said, don’t be hesitant about teaching him to say the sounds correctly either. Because your son can say the /k/ and /g/ sounds correctly at the end of words with a little encouragement you can likely get him saying them correctly in the beginning of words as well.

    Don’t worry about the gagging because you won’t need the tongue depressor. What you want to do is “shape” the /k/ and /g/ sounds in the beginning of words from the /k/ and /g/ sounds at the end of words. To do this start with a word he says well like “dog.” Then have him say “doggie,” then “doggo” and finally “dog go.” Once you have success remember that repetition goes a long way. Have him practice “dog-go” multiple times. Then have him add a word following go like, “dog go home.” Finally end with, “go” or “go home.” You can use the same method with other words that start with /g/.

    Pronouncing the /l/ like a /w/ at the start of a word and then correctly when the word is blended with another consonant as in , “sleep” is not an uncommon error for his age. Once you have success teaching your son how to say the /k/ and /g/ correctly in the beginning of words then consider reading my post on “How to Teach the L Sound” for some more tips.

    Thanks for reading!

  28. Thanks so much! I’ll definitely try this:)

  29. Hi Heidi~

    My son is almost 4 and has been in Speech Therapy for about 2 years now and still has problems with the /k/ and /g/ sounds. He will not even try to say them anymore and gets very frustrated with me when I try and work with him on them. After voicing my concerns to his speech pathologist regarding the /k/ and /g/ sounds all she could tell me was to keep repeating back the correct way to say the words. He started a preschool program this year through our school district and today his teacher approached me about his speech and I was very discouraged because of how long I have been trying to work with him on these issues. I am so excited to find this site today and I will be trying the gargling and straw exercises along with the printed worksheets that you provided. My fingers are crossed and I am very hopeful that this will help!

  30. Cathy,

    Don’t be discouraged. I am confident with a proactive mom like you your son will learn to say his sounds correctly. Keep us updated. We want him to be successful as well. If after trying some of the techniques I have suggested your son is still not saying the sounds correctly let me know, I am sure together we can figure something out.

  31. Hey Heidi,

    Firstly, thank you so much for this blog. I am a teacher in China, and being different or having speech problems is taboo. It is not talked about, and the belief that a problem will simply “go away” is a everyday thought.

    I have a 4 year old girl who can not do the “g” and “k” sounds. I took your advise and she can now, after countless hours” do the sound. Thank you.

    I also have a 4 year old girl that cant so the “s” or “sh” sounds. Any advice?


  32. Wim,

    I am happy to hear about your success with the /k/ and /g/ sounds. I have written a post on “How to Teach the SH Sound” that should be helpful as well as a post about lisping that addresses the /s/ sound called, “My Child has a Lisp, Should I be Concerned?” You can also find practice sheets for the /s/ and sh sounds on the worksheets page. I also have a new app for iPad called Articulation Station that should be released very soon that has tips for teaching every sound as well as super fun and engaging articulation activities for teaching the sounds. We’ll announce it here on my blog as soon as it is available.

    Thanks for reading!

  33. Thank you thank you thank you!! My 2 1/2 year old has been in speech therapy for a year now. I’ve seen HUGE progress in his speech (at 1 1/2 he had NO words, which is what prompted us to look into therapy) over the last year, but I’ve been getting increasingly frustrated at his consistent inability to make the /k/ and /g/ sounds.

    First, our therapist has never ONCE mentioned that some kids take till 3 1/2 to produce this sound! Had I known that, I would have patiently waited!

    Second, in my obvious frustration, she never mentioned the straw technique. Yes, my son puts the ENTIRE straw into his mouth! I truly believe that this is an answer to our problem! I’m going to test it when he wakes up from his nap and if he’s doing as I suspect, that straw is being CUT!

    It’s been a long process and I’ve already told the therapist that when he turns 3 in April, we will not be continuing. Most of his progress that I have seen has been natural growth. It’s just that /g/ and /k/ sound that eludes him now. I think having US work with him at home (I’m a stay at home mom) where he’s getting the interaction daily, rather than just once a week, will make a huge difference.

    Thank you! I’m so thrilled to have found your blog!

  34. Thanks Patti! It sounds like you are on the right track. 🙂

  35. Heidi,

    I found your site through Pinterest. I am so thrilled that you have an article dedicated specifically to /k/ and /g/ as that is what my 4.5 yr old has been working on for the last couple of months in his speech therapy sessions. Fortunately, our SLP has recommended all the techniques that you listed, however, she didn’t mention the straw length, so we will be trying that. My poor guy is getting so frustrated, but he is determined, and we’re trying as many fun “games” as we can. One that the SLP and I found in one of her books was a fruit snacks game. I’d love to share it if you don’t mind. Put a fruit snack on a straw (a juice box straw works great b/c of the pointed end), and have the child try to pop it off with his tongue. The child has to do an up, down, back motion. Of course, the prize is getting to eat the fruit snack. The other thing I tried on my own was having him take the fruit snack and hold it in his front teeth and try to produce the sound without his tongue touching the fruit snack. It seems (at least when I try it) that by holding your tongue down in front behind the bottom teeth so it doesn’t touch the fruit snack, that automatically makes the back of the tongue go up to help produce the desired sounds.

    Thanks again, Heidi. I am going to pass along your blog to my SLP friends.

  36. Thank Karen for the fruit snack idea. I haven’t tried that one. I always love getting new ideas. Best of luck with your little guy.

    🙂 Heidi

  37. Hello Heidi,

    I came across your blog and I am very thankful that I did. I am 22 years old and I have difficulties in pronouncing some of the letters such as: th, k, g, dh, th, and the kh sound. I also have problems pronouncing words with both l and n. Sometimes I pronounce Lin and Nil or Nil as Lin. I have somewhat learned some of these words properly but it’s hard to say it when in my speech. I think the problem is that I am trying to learn all these words at the same time and that’s creating a problem. What sounds do you recommend I should concentrate first on? And also, I think my biggest weakness is my oral motor. Is there any way to strengthen your tongue? I will be glad if you can help me here. I also have sometimes a lot of saliva on my mouth and sometimes I’m not able to pronounce the words correctly. Also, when I say the words L and N, sometimes the words come out of my nose and not my mouth. By the way, if there is some way that I can contribute to this site, I will do so since it has helped me a great deal.

  38. Hi Pragnesh,

    I am so happy you have found my site helpful. It sounds like you suspect that you have oral motor weakness that is making pronouncing sounds difficult. I would definitely recommend getting a speech evaluation from a Speech-Language Pathologist if it is within your means to do so. They could take a closer look at your tongue and determine specifically what you are doing as you say each sound. Knowing this they will be able to recommend very specific exercises that can strengthen the tongue to help you learn to say those sounds.

    In the meantime if you are interested in getting started on your own I would recommend starting with the th sound. Visually it is the easiest to see and would be the easiest for you to self-monitor the accuracy of the production. Read my post, “How to Teach the TH Sound” for some tips on how to get started.

    I hope this helps and I wish you the very best!

  39. I have found some videos on youtube on th pronunciation and that has helped me a bit. My question is that, should I strengthen my soft palate first with using Kazoo and then learn the pronunciation or should I do it simultaneously. I also have problems with a t sound so maybe I should do that first.

  40. Great post! I also work with preschool and these are definitely harder sounds for most of my caseload. Just to add on some other tips I’ll start with dinosaurs and we’ll set up trees or other blocks and have the dinosaurs stomp around doing the gritty “kkkkk” sound you spoke of, almost like it is gargling. I will also put my finger in the childs mouth (with a glove of course) and tell them not to bite my finger as they’ll want to do this to substitute for /t/ for /k/. It’s a good visual way to make them keep their mouths open for /k/. I’ve also tried the lying on the floor thing and it is good if the child has absolutely no placement or tongue retraction.

  41. Thanks for sharing your great ideas with us Whitney!

  42. Hi Pragnesh,

    If you struggle with the /t/ sound as well as the /g/ sound I would recommend figuring out which sound is easier for you to make in isolation (all by itself). That is the sound you want to start with. I would imagine from what you have told me that the /t/ sound is going to be easier for you. If that is the case then I would start with the /t/ sound.

    To answer your question, yes it is ok to work on strengthening your soft palate with exercises like blowing horns while practicing the /k/ sound.

    Wishing you the best!

  43. Thank you for your brilliant site, just what we need. My son is 5 and a half and is having difficulties articulating K , G ,R and SH , TH, he also is still mixing his tenses up past present . He is beginning to become upset when new friends don’t understand him ( we just moved ) We are all keen to correct things and it is important for his self esteem. I am worried about bombarding him with corrections or too much at once ? Should I take one sound at a time and continue until it is correct in story and conversation or is it OK to work on more than one at a time? Many thanks Emma

  44. Hi Emma,

    First I would check to see which sound he is most stimulable for. Meaning if you have him say the /k/ sound all by itself in imitation of you can he say it? Can he say it in imitation at the word level? Can he say the /g/ sound in imitation? The sh sound in imitation? The th sound in imitation? You want to start with the sound he is likely to be the most successful with. Which ever sound he was able to produce in imitation of you is the one you want to start with. If he doesn’t say any of them you may want to try the /k/ or /g/ sounds first since those sounds are typically mastered at a younger age for most kids. Work on those sounds for awhile, if he is making progress with them I would stick with those sounds until he has mastered them at all levels before you move on to the next sound. If you start with those sounds and you are not making much progress try a different sound until you see progress.

    So in short, I generally recommend working on one sound at a time until mastery is reached at the story level. Then start working on a new sound while you continue to work on the previous sound in conversation.

    I hope this helps. Best of luck!

  45. My 3-year-old son has troubles with the /k/ and /g/ sounds. When he works with his SLP he tells her that it “hurts” to make that sound. Any idea why that might be?

  46. Hi Lauren, your child might be making the comment that it hurts to elevate his tongue for a few different reasons. There are some children that have a physical oral anomaly known as ankyloglossia, or tongue tie, which results in an abnormally small lingual frenulum (the membrane that tethers the tongue to the bottom of the mouth). If the lingual frenulum is too small, it will restrict range of motion of the tongue, especially when a child is trying to elevate the tongue tip for those back sounds, like /k/ and /g/. Your SLP will be able to check your son’s mouth (if she hasn’t already) to make sure that the lingual frenulum is sufficient for adequate elevation of the tongue tip.
    Another reason for the comment from your son might be due to the fact that the new articulatory movement of elevating the tongue back is just very new for your three year old. If he has developed a habit of substituting frontal sounds for backed sounds (i.e. /t/ for /k/ or /d/ for /g/) it might take him awhile to feel comfortable moving that tongue back to produce those sounds. Make sure that you continue to address concerns with your SLP. Good luck with therapy!

  47. Dear Heidi,
    Thank you for this wonderful website and the amazing and useful information and tips you are providing here.
    My son is 4 years and 4 months and has never said the letter K nor G. he substitutes them with T and D.
    he knows very well that he is not saying them right, and he accepted that i use a spoon (instead of a tongue depressor) as you suggested above, and finally yesterday he was able to produce the”K”! i was in heaven! but he is not able to say it alone, he is also a little bit slow while he is talking as if he has a slow speech. I have contacted a SLt and she said i should wait until 5 before starting him on therapy.
    I really need your advise, what do you recommend? Should i start him on speech therapy? or i can try and work with him at home first?
    Thank you so much for your help!

  48. Hi Nelly.

    Typically the /k/ and /g/ sounds are mastered by 80% of children by the age of 3. The pattern of substituting the /k/ and /g/ sounds for /t/ and /d/ sounds is a common pattern of speech errors among children that is typically gone by 3 1/2. This pattern is a phonological process called Fronting. Please keep in mind these ages are only generally speaking. There is a wide range in the ages at which children acquire sounds. Each Speech Language Pathologist may use a different set of norms at which they base the justification of services on.

    I think it is great that you are working with your son at home and I would recommend that you continue to do so. But I would also recommend that you contact a speech pathologist for guidance even if you are only seeing them a few times a month. This way you can be sure you are teaching him correct placement. Practice is only effective if you are practicing correct productions.

    Hope this helps! 🙂