If your child has recently started speech-language therapy, their therapist is likely assigning activities to practice throughout the week. With 1-2 hours of weekly therapy, why is there a need to also practice at home? This is a common question for many parents. It might feel overwhelming to add another item on your weekly to-do list with the many demands of life.
When it comes to speech and language therapy, practicing skills throughout the week can mean all the difference in your child’s progress. Your therapist is likely working toward your child’s achievement of very specific and measurable goals, whether trying to replace old habits with new habits, or teaching entirely new skills. Acquiring speech and language skills requires consistent practice throughout the week. I often compare speech and language home-practice to working out at the gym: 1 hour a week is unlikely to make a difference. However, 4-5 days per week will lead to faster progress and noticeable results. So how can you help your child practice at home? Enjoy these 5 tips to encourage your child toward achieving their speech and language goals throughout the week.
5 ways to encourage your child to practice at home:
1. Make a plan with your child’s therapist. If home-practice is not going well, don’t hesitate to ask your child’s therapist for more guidance. Your therapist will help you determine how often you should practice with your child, as well as specific activities and ways to keep them motivated.
2. Make a chart. Include days, times, and specific activities to practice throughout each week. If your child is older, let them monitor their chart by taping it on the refrigerator and adding stickers after assignments are completed. You might even create a reward system for accomplishing a weeks’ worth of practice.
3. Set a schedule. If you’re having difficulty finding the time to practice, setting a schedule will help you prioritize homework. You might set aside 15 minutes after school each day, or 10 minutes on your way to soccer practice in the afternoons.
4. Incorporate goals into your child’s daily routine. Use your therapist as a resource to help you determine which goals can appropriately be incorporated into daily routines. For example, you might practice pronouns (e.g. “he” and “she”) while playing Barbies with your child, or categories (e.g. cold things, hot things, dairy products, etc) during trips to the grocery store.
5. Take advantage of one-on-one time with your child. I typically prefer parents to practice speech and language skills with their child. The feedback and guidance is very helpful while kids are learning new skills. Enjoy this time alone with your child, by setting a special “mommy and me time” or “daddy and me time” to practice together. Your therapist will have ideas for specific games, toys or books that will be fun and engaging for your child to practice their speech and language goals in a way that doesn’t feel like “homework”.