What could save parents precious time while helping their child with home practice?
As I connect with parents both online and in person, they often request ways to help them save time with home practice. I wrote the following letter for clients’ parents and caregivers. It offers them time-saving tips for generalizing speech-language goals at home without taking up too much extra time. Feel free to use all or part of it in your practice or to send home with students.
Who has time to practice every day when your family life already gets maxed out with activities, therapy appointments, homework, daily routines, exercises and so much more?
However, as you know, your child’s speech-language therapy program works best when your child targets his or her goals and strategies during our sessions AND with when you practice these goals at home. Below, I’ve listed strategies or cues that are effective and easy to do.
I understand and am always willing to listen to your suggestions. Coming up with ways to save you time or to practice on the go stays at the top of my mind. The suggestions below resulted from years of listening to other parents, SLPs and just wracking my brain.
Five time-saving solutions for home practice:
- Write down your child’s speech-language goals and post these on your fridge or family bulletin board. Limit them to about three goals at one time.
- Also post helpful strategies or cues for every family member or practice helper to use.
Make a plan to practice 10 to 15 minutes every day
Post this plan on your fridge or family bulletin board.
- Speech-language carryover progress works best when you spend three to five minutes at a time, three times a day with your child practicing. Set at least five times a day when your child can practice with someone as part of your daily routines. Some examples include sharing stories, bathroom routines, mealtime, leisure time, folding laundry, chopping veggies, cleaning, etc. And don’t forget waiting in line at the supermarket, waiting for sporting events or other activities to begin, going for a walk, waiting for food at a restaurant, in the car at long lights, walking to school, waiting for the bus, waiting for a movie to begin, taking your dog to the off-leash park, playing board games, in front of a bathroom or portable mirror, re-telling a movie or book, riding on public transportation, or to show off for a visitor.
Form a speech practice team (Here comes my best tip for you!)
- Come up with three to five people to be on your child’s speech practice team, and not just “Team Mom.”
- Your team members might include a spouse, older sibling, nanny, babysitter, aunt, neighbor, grandparent, school volunteer, or high school or college student looking for volunteer experience with kids.
- Arrange for FaceTime or Skype calls with practice team members and your child. (Bonus—your child’s busy during these calls, freeing you up for other family or household tasks.)
WOWs = words of the week
- Choose five functional words and phrases that encapsulate your child’s speech-language goals and that your child says often.
- Use names of favorite toys, snacks, activities, TV shows, video games, good friends, family members, pets or even slang expressions. Have fun with these words and phrases that your child really wants to learn to say.
Praise speech-language success
- Several times a day, when you hear your child correctly say or use his or her speech-language goals, offer genuine praise such as “That was really clear,” “You carefully said …,” “I understood you” or “Look at you improving!” When you praise a behavior, that behavior increases.
- Avoid the temptation to correct your child. The research doesn’t show that correcting helps and kids don’t seem to like this approach.
For more home practice tips, I made a simple handout to help you create a plan for accelerating progress.
Do you have tips you use to improve carryover at home? Please share them in the comments below!
Keri Vandongen, S-LP(C), aka “Speech Keri,” provides speech-language services for families with young children through her private practice in Alberta, Canada. She also offers online video training and techniques to enhance speech-language practice and carryover. firstname.lastname@example.org