In a speech-pathologist’s perfect world, parents and caregivers would value the homework we send home with their children as much as the math homework their teachers give them. However, this isn’t a perfect world, and often parents and children are too overwhelmed with school homework to focus on speech homework. However, speech needs to be practiced at home on a regular basis in order to see the progress we are all collectively looking for.
While there are many areas of speech and language that we work on with your child, there is always valuable work that can be done at home. Let’s look at a few of these areas and find out why it’s important to carryover what we do in therapy at home.
Early Intervention (building language): There are studies that suggest that parent implemented intervention may be more effective than clinician directed services. Now, before I put myself out of a job with that statement, speech-pathologists are a crucial part of training and directing parents on how to build language. The parents’ role is to execute what we teach in therapy, keeping it consistent enough to see language emerge from your child across settings.
Articulation Therapy (fixing that stubborn “R” and/or other sounds): For articulation therapy, I want you to think about riding a bike. At first, it’s really hard and you can’t imagine taking those training wheels off. But then, as time goes on you are riding on those two wheels without giving it a second thought. This is because our muscle memory allows us to complete such activities without thinking about what our bodies are actually doing. This same concept applies to our speech production. Therefore, when a child is learning a new way to produce a sound they need to practice enough for it to become muscle memory. This means that speech therapy once a week, for 30 minutes, is not going to fix that stubborn R on its own.
Language Therapy (reading comprehension, following directions, categories, etc.): For language therapy, we should break free of the thought that homework has to be a worksheet we have to sit down and help our kids with. This particular type of therapy can be turned into so many functional activities at home. For example: Following directions can be used by baking a cake or making crafts with your kids at home. Reading comprehension can be incorporated by asking open-ended questions while reading bedtime stories. The list goes on, don’t hesitate to ask your speech-pathologist for more creative ideas to make practicing various language skills fun at home!
I hope this provides you with motivation and inspiration to either begin or continue to practice skills that are being worked on in speech therapy, at home. I encourage parents to be consistent with their homework and think outside the box to motivate their kids to be excited about speech and language!
Rachel Plavnik is a speech-language pathologist at Pediatric Therapy Playhouse in Los Angeles.