In the past, it was thought that various tongue or mouth exercises, including blowing horns, were helpful to teach children to speak properly.  These exercises are very different from the movements involved in producing actual speech, and so they are called Nonspeech Oral Motor Exercises.  Research has shown that these types of exercises are not helpful for typical speech therapy. 

It turns out that talking doesn’t require much tongue strength, so exercises that focus on building strength are not particularly helpful.  What’s needed to speak properly is to practice coordinating speech movements with the brain.  In other words, to learn to speak well, practice speaking correctly.

When are nonspeech oral motor exercises useful?  If your child has had a stroke or has a neurological weakness of the tongue, exercises might be used.  Sometimes SLPs will use these exercises when treating a true tongue thrust.  However, for most speech errors, including a basic lisp for S and Z, nonspeech oral motor exercises are NOT recommended.  Just teach your child how to produce the sound correctly using proper tongue placement, and then practice, practice, practice!

To learn how to teach your child how to produce sounds correctly, check out my online courses at