The "R" Sound


If you hear your child saying “wed” for “red” or “caw” for “car”, they likely are not able to produce the “R” sound.  Did you know the “R” sound is one of the last sounds to develop?  However, most children are able to accurately produce the “R” by 6 years old.  If your child can not say the “R” sound by the first grade, your doctor may refer you to a speech-language pathologist for an evaluation.



• “R” is one of the most commonly used sounds in English.
• Not only is the “R” sound produced as a consonant, there are 6 different vocalic variations including ar, air, ear, er, or and ire. The “R” may be pronounced differently depending on what other sounds come before or after it.  Altogether, there are up to 32 different “R” sound combinations.
• The “R” sound is not an obvious or visible sound.  It is hard to see what the tongue is doing when you make this sound.
• Correction of mispronounced sounds can prevent future errors with spelling, increase verbal participation in conversations, and impact self-esteem.
• The longer that a sound is incorrectly produced, the harder it is to correct.


helpful Tips:

The “R” sound is complex and variable.  Here are some general guidelines for accurate production of this sound.
• The lips are rounded.  The tongue has a hump in the middle. The sides of the tongue stick to the top of the mouth.  The tongue tip curls up.  The throat constricts slightly.
• Use a dental flosser to guide tongue tip placement.
• Be sure your child can hear the difference between correct and incorrect productions when produced by others and in his own speech.
• Teach the sound by itself first.  
• Try the different vowel variations.  
• Work at the end, beginning, then middle of words.  
• Target consonant blends (ie. br, pr, gr, kr, tr, dr, fr, and str).  


Consult a speech-language pathologist to further evaluate and treat speech sound errors.