Learning a new skill can sometimes be hard! It takes practice, practice and more practice.  Learning a new sound is no different – the process is a journey. Success isn’t about being right the first time, but rather the ability to change and improve. When working with kids on any skills we need to provide specific feedback to help them move forward. It is easy to slip into the habit of saying ‘good job’ or ‘well done’. This provides positive praise, but only in a general sense. What happens if they don’t get it? Few of us would keep saying ‘missed it’ or ‘that is wrong’.

This is where specific feedback comes into its own. Specific feedback is used to pinpoint what we liked. For example, ‘great job moving your tongue up’ or ‘wow you got your lips together’. Specific feedback reinforces the skills we want the child to be developing and it is incredibly powerful in therapy and practice at home. Kids love hearing that they have done a great job and will concentrate on getting it ‘right’ to hear positive feedback over and over again. Using specific feedback highlights what they need to do to achieve.

To make your feedback specific follow a simple formula – think about what you are targeting, then ensure that your feedback includes specific information about the targeted behaviour.

If you were working on /f/ for example, feedback might look like:

  • Wow you remembered to touch your lip with your teeth
  • You got the /f/ at the start of words
  • Excellent you remembered the /f/ in fox and in forest

Providing feedback in a positive way is the best approach and should be used most often. Giving feedback about what a child hasn’t done can also be used sparingly but, as always, ensure the feedback is specific.

In the following examples, the focus is on what was missed but the required action is still included so that the child knows what to aim for:

  • Oops you forgot to bite your lip
  • Uh-oh sive, you forgot your f – five

Have fun using specific feedback to get those new skills moving.