Voice Volume

Children sometimes have difficulty with voice volume. Some speak too softly and some speak too loudly. Here are some suggestions to help children speak at a regular volume.

  • Use a 5-point scale to tell the children how loud they are and how loud you want them to be. “You are talking with a ‘5’ – a ‘very loud voice’. Please talk with a ‘3’ – a ‘regular voice’.” Here is an example of a 5-point scale for voice volume:

  • The 5-point scale helps many children to understand voice volume because it is colourful and concrete. Numbers are sometimes easier to understand than abstract labels such as “very quiet.” It also helps children to understand that there is a whole range of volume, not just “loud” and “quiet.” In addition, assigning numbers and colours to different volumes seems less judgemental than some labels, and this can help children to stay calm when they are getting feedback.
  • You can find more information about the 5 Point Scale, developed by Kari Dunn Buron, here.
  • If children are usually too loud, point out all the times they are using a “very quiet,” “quiet” or “regular” voice. Point out their successes lots of times before pointing out their difficulties. Once you have labelled a “regular” voice for them lots of times, you can say “That is very loud. Try using a regular voice!”
  • If children are usually too quiet, point out all the times they are using a “very loud,” “loud” or “regular” voice. Once you have labelled a “regular” voice for them lots of times, you can say “That is very quiet. Try using a regular voice.”
  • Give them lots of feedback about voice volume. Tell them “That’s very loud. It hurts my ears,” or “That’s very quiet. I can hardly hear you. I want to hear all your good ideas.”
  • Do lots of activities in which children take turns using different voice volumes. You could ask them to name animals, for example” “Tell me an animal that swims. Use a ‘very loud voice’.” Then you can also give lots of information about the effect of the volume: “That is so loud. I could hear it across the room! It could wake someone up!” “Tell me an animal that has wings. Use a ‘regular voice’.” “Wow – you used a regular voice! It is easy to hear you, and it doesn’t hurt my ears!” Show the children the 5-point scale while doing these activities to give them more visual and concrete support. This is especially fun with a whole group of children.

I hope that this article is helpful! If you have concerns about your child’s speech or language (including voice volume or social use of language), please contact a Speech-Language Pathologist.

SpeechWorks Inc. offers private Speech-Language Pathology services for children and adults in Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, the Northwest Territories, the Yukon, and Nunavut.

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