Dear Parents. Thank you for your involvment in your child’s at home speech therapy and education! Your support make all the difference in the world to the success of your child’s efforts. By now you understand far better than ever what it takes to make the changes in growth and development to help your child be successful! The following in an excerpt from Leanne Sherred, M.S. CCC-SLP, President and Founder of “Expresssable,” an online speech therapy practice. She highlights that reading books, modeling words, taking turns, showing interest in the same objects (joint attention) and giving choices to elicit words are all strategies that nurture your child’s communication and skill development. You are so important to your child’s speech and language development. Your interest and engagement with them is something they will appreciate for the rest of their lives:)
“Why Parental Involvement is So Important
As you know, one of the most powerful tools children have to improve their speech and language problems is also the most accessible: their parents. There’s a growing clinical consensus that speech and language outcomes are better when parents and guardians are more involved in therapy. When parents play an essential role in their child’s intervention – as opposed to being passive observers – children make considerably more progress towards their speech and language therapy goals.
For some parents, reinforcing this point, and making sure it’s applied in the real world, takes some work on our end. It may be tempting for parents to fully rely on us to “fix” the problem. And I understand! Parents are living hectic lives, and when their child is diagnosed with a speech or language problem, they enter a new and unfamiliar world that can at times feel intimidating and overwhelming.
Below are some tips SLPs can use to engage parents and help them understand their unique role in their child’s therapy..
- No one Knows Their Child Better: We can never replace a parent’s intuitive connection with their child. They know your child’s personality and temperament best, This makes parents the ideal teacher! They can take our clinical recommendations and treatment plans and tailor them even further to their child’s preferred learning style.
- Every Moment is a Learning Moment: Make sure parents understand that speech and language therapy aren’t restricted to the classroom or clinic. It doesn’t even require a desk or chair. Parents should be reinforcing best practices consistently throughout the day – during bath-time, play-time, trips to the grocery store, the dinner table – you name it!
- Practice Makes Perfect: Whether a child is learning to pronounce a letter or sound, improve their voice characteristics, or comprehend simple sentences, teaching must be practiced and reinforced routinely. While we often only get an hour or two of a child’s time per week, parents have the advantage of spending ample time with their children – especially now!
- Speaking With Those That Matter: When children see a therapist, they gain valuable knowledge, but when they speak with their parents on a daily basis, they’re able to put that new knowledge into practice. This allows parents to be keenly aware of progress they’re making. Did they use a new vocabulary word? Or respond to a word instead of a gesture? This is progress we need to know about to further refine and tailor their treatment plan.
- Comforting Environment: Many children learn best in an environment they’re most familiar and comfortable. Working with your child at home, in an environment that’s familiar, is a stress-free way to test the new skills they’ve learned at therapy.
Arm Parents with At-Home Exercises
Parents often ask me for suggestions of fun games and at-home exercises to integrate speech therapy practice into their daily lives. Just as putting cheese on broccoli helps kids consume their vegetables (it works for me!), engaging activities can make the practice of repetition, corrections, and cues more enjoyable.
Fortunately, there are many valuable blogs and resources out there that I regularly turn to for help. Some of these include the Speech Therapy Ideas, Home Speech Home, and Mommy Speech Therapy.
I’ve also created an instructional YouTube video series with a range of videos that teach parents common techniques to improve their child’s language development. These videos provide helpful tips and strategies for making speech therapy a natural part of everyday life, and cover topics such as: