Speech Therapy is Everywhere

Enrichment Therapies

November 11, 2019

Suzanne Moore M.S., CCC-SLP

When you picture a speech/language therapy session, what do you see? Do you imagine a speech-language pathologist (SLP) and a student completing a worksheet or practicing speech sounds in a mirror? While that may be a good image of what speech therapy looks like, it can be so much more than that!  

Therapy should not be confined to a therapy room on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:30 to 4. It actually can’t be if you want your child to have improvement with communication outside the therapy room that develops at an appropriate rate.  

Speech therapy can be done almost anywhere. It can be done with any materials. Most importantly, with the help of a speech-language pathologist, parents have the power to become “therapists” for their children. By finding ways to target speech and language goals outside the therapy room, parents can gain true ownership of their child’s success. 

Materials

You don’t need fancy toys, worksheets, or books to help teach a new skill. An abundance of speech and language goals can be targeted with common objects you can find around the house! Did you know that there are many goals that can be targeted with a cup? Here are a few examples: 

  • Prepositions – Hide something small (i.e. mini M&M) inside, behind, or under a cup. See if your child follows your directions to find it. You can also see if they can describe where they found it. 
  • Action words – A cup can roll, it can be washed, it can fall off the table, you can drink out of it, or you can turn it over and drum on it with a spoon!
  • Phonological awareness (i.e. pre-reading skills) – How many sounds can your child hear when they say cup (C-U-P)? Can they think of any words that rhyme with cup? Can they count the number of syllables in the word? You can count 3 syllables if you are using a sippy cup!
  • Speech sounds – Have your child practice producing 5 words that contain one of the speech sounds they are working on in therapy. If they do that, you can let them shoot a grape into the cup from across the table!

While a cup might not be the most interesting object in the world, it is used here to illustrate that anything can be used to target various linguistic or articulation goals. Below are more examples of common objects that can be used to target speech/language development and goals.

  • Phones/iPads – Use the camera on your phone or iPad to target past tense forms. Take a video of your child performing various activities, then show it to them later. You can ask, “What did you do?” See if they can respond by saying a verb with the past tense “ed” ending or an irregular past tense verb. If they are just getting started with the past tense concept, you can model the past tense forms yourself while watching the videos. Examples: 
    • “You jumped up and down.” 
    • “You ate an apple.”
  • Cooking Directions – You can target auditory comprehension and following directions when you are cooking. See if your child can follow 2-3 step directions (i.e. Put two cups of flower and 1 cup of sugar into the bowl). You can always simplify directions to singular steps if multi-step directions are too difficult. Children that are 3 years old are generally able to follow simple 2-step directions. At 4-5 years old, children begin to understand 3-step directions. You can also work on sequencing and short-term memory skills by seeing if your child can describe as many steps of the cooking process as they can when you are finished.
  • Mystery Bag or Box – Fill a bag or box with common objects that can be found around the house that aren’t in your child’s vocabulary yet. Kids love getting a turn to pick items out of the “mystery bag.” You can label the objects for them if they are just getting started with a particular set of vocabulary words. After they have worked the set of words for a while, see if they can name each item independently. If they aren’t sure what an object is, give them hints! Tell them the first sound of the word, say what the object is used for, tell them where the object can be found, etc.
  • Books – Regular reading routines come with an array of benefits for speech and language development. Reading can also be used to help target specific goal areas. For example, you can improve articulation by finding a book with a main character whose name starts with one of your student’s target sounds from speech therapy. As you read the book, you will provide frequent models of their target sound. Many popular books contain repeated models of one speech sound. For example, Row Row Row Your Boat could be used to provide models the initial /r/ sound. 

Speech Therapy Anywhere

You can work on language and articulation with your child while you’re out running errands or traveling. There are opportunities anywhere you go. For example, imagine that you see a semi in a gas station parking lot. There are many opportunities for speech and language development if you engage your child in conversation about the truck. You can:

  • Predict where you think the truck is going next, and ask your child to do the same. 
  • Discuss what do you think the truck might be carrying.  
  • Talk about shapes. What shapes can your child see on the truck? (i.e. circular wheels, rectangular trailer, etc.)
  • Talk about size. Is the truck bigger or smaller than your car? How many feet tall do you think it is? How long do you think it is?
  • Talk about colors on the truck. 
  • Talk about movement (i.e. the wheels turn, the truck can move forward or backward, it can move quickly or slowly, etc.) 
  • If your child is working on producing /k/ sounds at the end of words, you can use the word “truck” throughout your conversation with emphasis on the final /k/ sound. 

Remember that you can apply these concepts to anything that your child is interested in. The conversation will always be more productive if the object you are discussing is highly interesting for your child. During these conversations, don’t just question and quiz. Instead, make your own observations too. Modeling what you are thinking in your head by verbalizing it can encourage your child to do the same!

SLPs are experts on strategies and teaching methods that can be used to effectively model linguistic concepts and teach your child new skills. However, you have the unique ability to create learning opportunities outside the therapy room that are fun and motivating for your child. Once your SLP teaches you effective teaching methods for your child’s linguistic and articulation goals, you can apply those strategies to activities and conversations outside the therapy room. Remember that there are opportunities everywhere!

Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center has locations in the Iowa City, IA area and Des Moines, IA area. We provide individual speech-language therapy and tutoring as well as offering small group academic programs.  At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center our passion is to help kids achieve effective communication skills and gain academic success.  Contact us for more information on how we can help your child succeed.

info@enrichmenttherapies.com

740 Community Drive, Unit A

North Liberty, IA 52317

319-626-2553

 infodm@enrichmenttherapies.com

5530 West Pkwy, Suite 300

Johnston, IA 50131

515-419-4270

 

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