If your son has difficulty with the r and s sounds, take time to work only on those sounds. Find words and pictures that start with that sound. Make sure you pair the word with the picture, so he is able to understand that each letter makes a certain sound. It is also important to set up a meeting with your son's teacher. She will be able to give you ideas to help him at home and will be able to let you know what she is doing at school to help him as well.
Lastly, if you haven’t already, seek out the expertise and guidance of a licensed speech-language pathologist (SLP) and schedule your child for a speech, language, and hearing screening. Also, express your concerns to the SLP to see if your child needs an evaluation. If your child is enrolled in public school, you should be able to find an SLP at the school. Even if your child is home-schooled or in private school, you are still entitled to have your child receive speech-language pathology services (if your child qualifies) at your child’s assigned, public school at no charge.
Reading is a language-based skill as it utilizes all of the same processes of an individual’s complex oral language skills. If an individual is unable to develop complex oral language skills, they are unable to develop the skills necessary to be a successful reader.
Speech and language intervention is an essential component to the achievement of a successful reader for those who are challenged academically! Intensive treatment supports the development of advanced language skills, which in turn support the skills necessary for reading.
You will need to find a program that is designed to innervate the areas of the brain responsible for language development, which target the fundamental building blocks for reading including phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, fluency, and comprehension.
Research indicates that stand alone school-based programs are not intensive enough to meet the needs of struggling readers. Children who are enrolled in intensive programs and those who receive early intervention tend to score higher on cognitive and academic achievement measures than those who do not receive intervention or rely on school-age treatment alone.
If your child is struggling with reading there are several things you can do to support their development. In addition to seeking school-based services, enroll them in a reading-based program that uses a multisensory approach and seek a comprehensive language program through a reading specialist or speech language pathologist.
Keep in mind: If you can't hear the sounds correctly, you can't say the sounds correctly, you can't read or write the sounds correctly.
One of the best things you can do is to model appropriate reading for him. So lots of reading to him before bed or something or during "homework" time is a good thing. Have a list of words with the r and s sounds in them and practice every evening before bed or when you're in the car going to school or whatever. You say them and model the correct sound and then have him repeat. Repetition is key with things like these. Also, don't just use words that have the r and s sounds at the beginning of the word, make sure to have words that use those sounds in the middle and end of the word so that he will be able to hear it in variation. This will help with reading as well. I teach special education and I deal a lot with reading and speech problems, so I hope this helps!
My grandson has speech problems similar to yours. His speech therapist works with him by sitting down and playing board gamnes with him or writing stories about things he is interested in. While he is busy and concentrating on winning the game, she is visiting with him and getting him to talk, using these sounds without realizing it. She stops him to emphasize a sound when it is way off, or pretends to not understand and get him to repeat until he gets it right. It has worked wonders!! sometimes we make things worse by putting too much emphasis on the problem, and can make our kids just shut down for fear of failure. Good luck.