How to Help Your Child Get the Most Out of Speech Therapy
Parents are an extremely important part of their child’s therapy program. Parents help determine whether or not their child’s experience in speech/language therapy is a success. I have seen over and over again during my years as a speech/language pathologist, that the children who complete the program most quickly and with the most lasting results are those whose parents have been involved.
One of the most frequent questions parents ask is “How can I help my child at home?” Since each child’s problem is unique, that answer can be different for each parent. However, there are some basics that apply to all cases.
Demonstrate a supportive, positive attitude about speech therapy to your child. In our school, we have students who go to Waterford ( computer class), ELL class (English Language Learners), Pathways (Gifted/Talented), resource classes, and a small group tutoring class. You can reassure your child that lots of kids go out of the regular class during the day and they will have a good time and learn things that will help them in school. Try not to make them feel that they have some terrible problem, but that going to speech can be fun. Help your child understand that this class is just as important as any other class and that you take it seriously too.
Continue to show an interest in your child’s speech program by asking what they did in class. You may keep in contact with me through parent conferences, Back-to-School Night, e-mails, and phone or written communication as needed. Your child will have a speech homework folder to carry back and forth from school to home. These assignments should be considered to be just as important as their spelling or math homework. Initialing the assignments once they are completed lets me know that you’ve gone over them with your child.
Finally, integrate speech practice into daily activities as much as possible. Here are some general activities to try. Choose those which fit your child’s age and interest the best.
1. If your child is working on a specific sound, help them to become aware of that sound by pointing out things in the environment that contain the target sound. You can do this in a number of ways:
a. Go on a “Sound Walk”. Hunt for things in or outside of the house that have the child’s speech sound.
b. Look through magazines for pictures or words that have the speech sound.
c. When driving, look for things with the child’s sound.
d. Play a 20 Questions. Think of a word or object that has the child’s speech sound. Have the child ask questions to figure out what the object is. If that is too difficult, give the child clues and have him guess.2. Once your child can say the sound correctly in words, have them practice saying some of those words for you. When that becomes easy, have them say the word in a sentence.
a. Spelling Search - Have the child search their spelling list for words that have the target sound. Say them aloud.
b. Silly Sentences - See who can make up the silliest sentence using one of the speech words.
c. Challenge Sentences - See who can make up the sentence using the most words containing the speech sound.
d. Tongue Twisters - Do you know a tongue twister that has your child’s speech sound? Can you and your child make some up?
3. When your child is able to say the target speech sound in words and sentences, have them begin to practice reading aloud using the sound correctly. For beginning readers, have them read from a reading book or story books they enjoy. Try using poems, the Sunday Funnies, Comic Books, cereal boxes, signs, TV guide, video or board game instructions, anything your child enjoys reading. (This will help improve reading skills too!)
4. Begin to encourage your child to use the sound correctly for short periods of time during the day. This is called “carryover”. Can your child carryover good speech every time they say: sister’s / brother’s name? pet’s name? favorite food? Favorite TV show?
5. Once your child is able to use good speech for longer periods of time, try these conversational activities.
a. Make a phone call using good speech.
b. Use good speech all during supper.
c. Use good speech in the car on the way to practice, lessons, or school.
d. Use good speech while going over homework.
6. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel contact me.
The keys are to keep speech practice fun and to teach your child that good speech is not just for speech class. Don’t let speech practice become a source of conflict. Do not pick times when your child is tired or upset to expect good speech. Praise your child as they acquire new speech skills.
Ann Smith Elementary School