This is the third article in a five-part series exploring the importance of parental involvement in meeting your child’s speech and language therapy goals.
Throughout this blog series we’ve explored why parents play such a pivotal role in their child’s speech and language therapy (read here), as well as how online speech therapy makes it particularly easy for parents to get involved in their child’s progress (read here).
In this next installment, we’re going to dive deeper into how parents can participate in helping their child reach his/her communication goals, and what some common at-home exercises look like.
The Unique Role Parents Play
It’s worth restating how essential parents are in their child’s development of new communication skills.
At most, you’re probably seeing a speech-language pathologist (SLP) 1-2 hours a week. While SLPs will use strategies and exercises to help your child in the limited time they have together, there’s no substitute for the unique role parents play in their ability to reinforce best practices at home.
As mentioned, studies show that children progress faster when you integrate speech exercises, corrections, queues, and support into their daily life. Whether your child is working on articulation, fluency, or reading, each parent-child interaction presents a unique opportunity to learn and grow - whether during dinner time, at the playground, or a routine trip to the store.
After all, children learn to communicate during everyday activities and conversations - and no one spends more time with your child than you.
How Parents Can Effectively Partner with Their Speech Therapist
We strongly believe in the importance of establishing strong parent-therapist relationships. By working together, you can come up with goals and activities that you can do at home during your everyday life that will make a huge difference in your child’s speech and language development.
If you’re currently receiving on-site speech therapy from school or a private clinic, we encourage you to ask your therapist how to be more involved in your child’s progress. With young children, it’s especially common that the parent becomes the primary person delivering the therapy, whereas the speech therapist functions more as your coach and consultant.
Here are some examples of topics you should regularly be discussing with your speech therapist:
- Goal Setting: While your speech therapist will provide clinical recommendations on a child’s age-appropriate goals, this should be a collaborative process. Work to better understand the goals and milestones your child should be working towards, why they’re important, and how you can support your child along their journey.
- At-Home Strategies and Practices: What are common, everyday exercises that you and your child can be practicing? There are so many potential “learning moments” throughout the day. Discuss how you can recognize and take advantage of them to help build your kiddo’s communication skills.
- Monitoring Signs of Progress: Work with your speech therapist to better understand and recognize signs that your child is improving. Did they respond to a word instead of a gesture? Did they use a new vocabulary word? Or pronounce the letter “r” correctly? It’s vital that you report this progress back to your speech therapist so they can continue to tailor and improve their treatment plan.
While this may seem obvious, it’s extremely important that you and your therapist have a good working relationship, and build a trusting and cooperative partnership.
Make sure that they’re proactive about arming you with tools and strategies you need to be an effective teacher to your child. Additionally, we believe that therapists should always be easy to get in contact with. Who knows when a question may pop up, or when you have a pressing concern. Make sure you either have their contact information, or use a secure, HIPAA-compliant communication channel.
Don’t be Intimidated!
We understand some parents may initially be nervous delivering speech therapy exercises and strategies at home.
Just as daily practice will help your child improve their communication and language comprehensive, it will also help you be a better teacher and mentor. Doing speech therapy exercises during play and daily routines will bring to light how some small adjustments can have a big impact on their child’s development.
And of course, if you’re ever confused, unsure of yourself, or hit a wall, your speech therapist should be a constant source of guidance, instruction, and inspiration.
Examples of At-Home Exercises
Our YouTube series provides short and enjoyable at-home exercises on a variety of speech and language-related topics. These videos offer practicable tips parents can use with their child during everyday activities. We usually release 1-2 videos a week on a range of relevant subjects, so be sure to subscribe for the latest videos.
Also, we regularly create new videos based on common questions and concerns that parents have. If you’d like to request a video, you can always send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s a few videos to get started.
Reading for Toddlers
In this video, we discuss how to use books to develop early language skills and literacy, and how to ensure reading is engaging and helpful for children.
Using Attention to Help Promote Early Language Development
This video describes a common speech therapy technique that parents can use at home called Joint Attention, which helps children pick up and adopt words from other people in their environment.
Using Household Items to Promote Early Language Development
Who knew that every item in your house can be used as a teaching tool? This video explains how you can use the toys and items you have at home to help your children adopt new words and expand their vocabulary.