How to Engage Your Child in Speech Therapy Home Practice
As Speech Pathologists, we love nothing more than helping your child to progress towards achieving their speech therapy goals! In order to get to our ultimate destination though, we need your help. There’s only so much we can achieve in the limited time we spend with your child each week or fortnight, so in between, some home practice needs to take place.
But we know that it’s not always that simple! As a parent juggling many responsibilities and day-to-day tasks, finding the time (and the enthusiasm) to guide your child through speech therapy home practice can be a challenge. Before we skip the home practice though, let’s look at the different ways you can engage your child in speech therapy home practice in a way that fits with your schedule and feels much more achievable.
What is Speech Therapy Home Practice?
Speech therapy home practice looks a little different for everyone, but at the end of the day, it’s a collection of activities or tasks that you complete at home that relate to the goals you’re working on in speech therapy. For example, if your child is working on particular speech sounds, your treating Speech Pathologist might provide you with a list of words to practice at home in between sessions.
The key with speech therapy home practice for us is making sure we, as your Speech Pathologist, give you enough information and guidance to implement home practice effectively. The last thing we want is for you to feel like we’ve left you in the dark! To get the best outcomes from home practice, your treating Speech Pathologist will provide you with instructions and personalised recommendations to make your home practice successful.
Why is Speech Therapy Home Practice Important?
In the world of Speech Pathology, we refer to the time spent practicing specific therapy-based activities as a ‘dose’. Kind of the like a dose of a medicine that helps you to feel better, a ‘dose’ of targeted speech therapy can positively contribute to your child reaching their speech therapy goals. As you can imagine, the more ‘doses’ your child gets of speech therapy, the more likely it is that they will progress towards achieving their goals.
That is why we encourage consistent home practice in between speech therapy sessions! The more you can generalize the skills learned in the therapy room (applying them outside the clinic room) the more likely it is that your child will achieve the results you are working towards.
5 Ways to Engage Your Child in Speech Therapy Home Practice
#1: Incorporate Practice into Your Daily Routine
We know that you’ve got a lot on as a parent! Perhaps you’re juggling school drop off (for multiple kiddos!), work, community engagements, life admin, and more. It’s a lot, and we don’t want to add a whole lot of extra load into what you’ve already got on your plate.
With speech therapy home practice, often times the best way to go about it is to incorporate it into your daily routine or daily activities. Some parents find that at the end of the day, when reading bedtime stories, is a good time to practice a couple of speech sounds or question responses for example. Other great times to do your Speech Pathology home practice is in the car or when having a bath. We’ve even had a client practice their fluent speech while on the toilet when they were being toilet trained!
Have a chat to your treating Speech Pathologist about the different ways you could help your child to practice speech therapy at home in a way that meshes well with other daily or weekly activities you have going on.
#2: Pick an Enjoyable Activity or Game to Play
As you know from being in the clinic and watching your child participate in Speech Therapy, we use a lot of activities and games to keep things interesting. So, it makes sense to incorporate activities or games into your speech therapy home practice too!
Your treating Speech Pathologist can point you in the right direction as to what toys will best support the goals you’re working towards. Ideally, you should be going for activities or games that are versatile – something you can use in different ways depending on what goal you’re targeting. One of our favourites in the clinic is the ‘Funny Fisher’ magnetic fishing game. Next time you’re in the SpeechEase Speech Therapy clinic, ask your Speech Pathologist about this game! You can even purchase it straight from us next time you’re there.
#3: Provide Positive Feedback
Positive feedback is one of the number one ways you can keep your child engaged and motivated to complete speech therapy practice at home. We all like being told when we’re doing well and being supported to keep trying when we’re struggling with something. As a parent, your role in speech therapy home practice isn’t just to correct and ‘fix’ your child’s errors, although that’s important at times. Instead, celebrate the attempts and keep track of your child’s progress to discuss with your treating Speech Pathologist in the clinic.
#4: Break It Down
If you can’t find a full 20-30 minutes a day for Speech Therapy home practice, don’t be afraid to break it down into shorter practice sessions throughout the day. 5–10-minute intervals are a great starting point for getting in some speech therapy practice without overwhelming you or your child. Every little bit helps so find those shorter moments within the day – waiting for someone to get in the car, packing lunch boxes, tying their shoe laces, during the ad breaks on TV, while setting the table – and get it done!
#5: Have Another Adult Involved in Home Practice
Some little ones can find it hard to pay attention during home practice because they’re so used to their Mum or Dad being… well… Mum or Dad! Sometimes it can be helpful to get other adults involved in home practice, like Grandparents, or to do home practice in an area outside of the home (like a park).
That was a lot of information, wasn’t it? We sure hope you’ve found these tips helpful, and hopefully you’re ready to start putting one or two into action with your little one at home. If you’ve got questions about the kind of things you could work at home in between your Speech Therapy sessions, speak with your treating Speech Pathologist next time you’re in the clinic.
Not a SpeechEase Speech Therapy client just yet? If you’d like to work with one of our passionate Speech Pathologists in Townsville, Mackay, or Brisbane, register for our services here.