My Child Started Speech; What's Next?
Now that you have found a wonderful speech-language pathologist (SLP) committed to helping your child and regularly scheduled therapy sessions have begun, what’s next? How can you, as a parent or caregiver, support your child's learning and growth in communication outside of what’s happening in the therapy room? These are thoughtful questions that I love hearing from devoted new clients who are eager to help their child get the most out speech-language therapy.
We're a Team
At Let’s Connect, supporting your child and his communication goals is a team effort, and collaboration with not only parents, but teachers, other family members, nannies, and service providers, including occupational therapists, is not only welcomed, but encouraged. Each team member has a unique perspective and relationship with your child that is valuable, and working together helps us to better support your child and meet his specific needs.
In particular, parents are key players who know their child best and usually spend the most time with him. For these reasons, when parents get involved with their child's speech-language therapy, they become empowered and can positively impact their child's success. Their child's progress can be accelerated, and carryover and generalization of skills are strengthened. Goals and graduation from therapy can even be reached sooner.
"A" Ways to Support Your Child in Therapy
Here are four crucial and hopefully manageable ways that parents and caregivers can support their child in speech-language therapy:
- Attendance: Be consistent and committed with attendance. Do your best to make every scheduled speech-language therapy session, and if applicable, please be prompt for drop-off and pick-up. Provide advance notice if you’re going out of town, and when unexpected emergencies crop up, please provide notification as soon as possible. Also, we want your child to stay on track, so flexibility and willingness is appreciated when scheduling your child's make-up session following an absence.
- At-Home Practice: Following every therapy session, Let’s Connect provides a treatment note (via email) to parents. These notes contain important information including the goals that were targeted, details about your child’s performance, and recommendations and suggestions for how to practice and reinforce skills at home. Please take time to review these notes each week so that you can be informed and prepared to support your child with what he's working on in therapy. Also, sometimes practice sheets with specific word targets or completed work from the session are sent home, so please check your child’s belongings for these items. At the minimum, plan to spend up to ten minutes several days a week working with your child and helping him put those speech-language skills into practice. Use this as an opportunity to connect with your child and strengthen not only his skills, but his confidence too.
- Attitude: Show interest in what your child is learning in speech-language therapy by talking to him about his session(s) each week. Celebrate when your child is mastering and improving with goals, and encourage him when tasks are new or challenging. A positive and invested attitude is contagious, and when your child sees that you value the work and fruits of his speech-language therapy, he will too.
- Ask Questions: Just like your child is learning new things in therapy, you may come across speech-language terminology that is unfamiliar or develop new wonderings about your child's progress. Perhaps you have a question about a recommendation made by your SLP for at-home practice. Please don't hesitate to reach out for clarification or fresh ideas on how to better support your child's communication and therapy goals.
As an SLP, when parents partner with me, together we are better able to tackle a very important and shared goal: supporting your child in mastering his communication goals with confidence and independence. Goooo Team!
- Johanna Sims, M.S., CCC-SLP