I love being able to work regularly with the children on my caseload, see good results and help parents make a difference. One thing that can really help us as therapists and also help your child progress is ‘homework’. Yes, practising at home! Now, I’m a realist and know firsthand how hard it can be to juggle children, family, working, cleaning, shopping etc. I’m not expecting hours of 1:1 worksheets. But, if you can manage 5 minutes every couple of days, it can make a huge difference.
Speech sound/ phonology.
– Little and often really applies when practising speech work. I always warn parents that I might be able to get a child to work for 30 minutes, but I come with a big bag of exciting toys, stickers and bubbles! 5 – 10 minutes of concentrated work is fantastic.
– Don’t feel that you can only practise the sheets or cards left behind. Another great way to help your child’s speech is to comment on what they are saying. So, for example if you are working on /g/ and they say ‘go’, perfectly without you having to prompt them, let them know! – “That was a fantastic /g/ sound, good remembering”. Equally if they mispronounce a word, rather than saying its’s wrong or asking them to say it again, comment something like – “That’s a good word, it’s got the /g/ sound in we have been practising”. Doing either of these a few times each day, just reminds your child in a really positive way, which sound they are working on and will help them generalise the new skills they are learning.
– Think about what we asking them to do and how big a job it is. This will take a little while and some practise. In many cases, we are expecting a child to change the habit of a lifetime, which may affect 1000’s of words. How easily could you change half of your /t/ sounds for a /k/ in your normal everyday conversation? I don’t think I could do it.
– Language really is all around us. There are so many opportunities to support words and talking without specific activities. Whether you are practising verbs (doing words) with a toddler by talking about bushing your teeth (we are brushing, washing and cleaning!) or thinking of words with multiple meanings with older children by asking them for another meaning for ‘plug’ at bed time when you put the plug in the bath. The key thing is to have a target in mind, and then the opportunities to use it will become more obvious.
– Also repetition is important. Just doing the game or activity once, is unlikely to be enough. For your child to really understand the task and then use the words appropriately, they will need to hear the words multiple times. Also real life use of those words is so important for generalisation. Just because they can say a word in a particular activity, doesn’t mean they can use it appropriately in everyday situations.
– Most people learn best by ‘doing’ – first they can see you do a task and use good words, then they will copy and try themselves. It’s much easier to remember something you have done and seen, than something you have been told about.
– Praise. Again this is so important and a great way to support any speech or language development. If your child remembers or uses a good word, let them know “That was a fantastic word, good remembering” – this can then often lead to a discussion of the word and what it means – so another chance for repetition!
With any homework tasks, remember to have fun and if in doubt – contact your speech therapist for more specific guidance.