Your child should begin learning to say the /k/ sound between the ages of two and four. The /k/ sound is often associated with the /g/ sound because both articulations require the same mouth position.
How it’s elicited
/k/ is an unvoiced sound. This means that when you say it, only air passes through your mouth, no verbal sounds.
This is a “stop consonant” meaning there are two parts to the articulation of this sound. The first is stopping the airflow. The second is the release of it. Obviously, the part of articulation during which you or your child’s lips are closed is the stoppage of air. Say the word “hike” to yourself. Notice how your mouth shuts off at the beginning of the /k/ sound and then opens to release that air and produce the “kuh” sound.
During the /k/ sound, the tongue will raise up towards the roof of the mouth to block the air. When the tongue is pulled away the air will escape, producing the /k/ sound.
Tips for Practicing
The /k/ sound relies heavily on the strength of your child’s tongue—a muscle that requires more development in some children. If you notice that your child seems to be having trouble with the /k/ sound, it might be because the muscles in her tongue aren’t quite strong enough for the articulation. An effective and easy way to help fix this is to encourage your child to drink through straws. The sucking motion used to pull liquid through a straw requires the same type of retraction motion of the tongue that’s used to
block the air while saying the /k/ sound.
Similarly, while your child your getting used to that retraction motion, it might be a good idea to allow gravity to make it easier. Have your child lay on her back while practicing the /k/ sound. This will make it easier for the tongue to move to the back of the mouth.
Once you feel your child is physically able to correctly articulate the /k/ sound and seems to be able to say it as an isolated sound, it’s time to start working towards incorporating that sound into their language.
As with any sound in your child’s language development, repetition and clear articulation are key to mastering the /k/ sound. Start by having your child repeat the sound after you until she is ready to begin incorporating the sound into syllables like “ka,” “ki” and “koo.” Once she’s feeling comfortable enough with these try practicing words that use the /k/ sound or sentences with multiple /k/ sounds in them.
If you are concerned with your child’s speech or language development, please contact Chicago Speech Therapy by clicking on the “Contact Karen” button on the upper right section of this page. Your online inquiry should be responded to within 30 minutes.
Karen George is a Chicago speech-language pathologist. Karen is a founding member and the current leader of Chicago Speech Therapists Connect, a group of Chicago-area speech-language pathologists. As of Jan 2012, the Chicago Speech Therapists group contained over 400 members. The private pediatric speech therapy practice Karen founded, Chicago Speech Therapy, LLC, provides in-home pediatric speech therapy in Chicago and surrounding suburbs. Karen and her team of Chicago speech therapists have a reputation for ultra-effective speech therapy and work with a variety of speech disorders. Karen is the author of several books such as A Parent’s Guide to Speech and Language Milestones, A Parent’s Guide to Articulation, A Parent’s Guide to Speech Delay, A Parent’s Guide to Stuttering Therapy, and A Parent’s Guide to Pediatric Feeding Therapy. She is often asked to speak and has addressed audiences at Children’s Memorial and Northwestern University. Karen is highly referred by many Chicago-area Pediatricians and elite schools.