There are a lot of opinions out there about using traditional board games in speech and language therapy. Some SLPs feel strongly that games target a wide variety of language skills and are relevant and motivating for students. Others say that our services should be skilled, educationally relevant, and evidence-based and that games aren’t the best use of our time.
To be honest, I fall somewhere in the middle of that debate. I generally try to avoid playing games in my therapy for several reasons. I don’t see my students making close to the amount of progress using games and I do when I use therapy materials that are directly relevant to the skills they are using in the classroom. I’m also a real life SLP that will admit to grabbing a game because I’m swamped, overwhelmed, didn’t have time to print that perfect curriculum-based activity and because I think to myself, “The students did a pretty good job when we played a game last time!”
Using Games Effectively in Speech Therapy
Because I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting about using games in therapy and have tinkered around with how I use them myself, I’ve come up with some thoughts on how to use board games in speech and language therapy most effectively:
- Students NEED to know what skills they are practicing during the game.
- Students NEED to know how to better their skills in that area while they play the game (e.g., strategies).
- Students NEED to know specific, concrete examples of when they can use these skills in real life (at home, in the classroom, during football practice, when grocery shopping, etc..).
- Game should be used sporadically to reinforce previously taught and practiced skills.
- Games are likely not going to be played by their typical, included directions.
I hope this blog post gives you some real ideas for how to use games effectively in therapy. Sometimes, I think we all get swamped and use games as language/social related time fillers. That is okay!!! We are human. I also know that sometimes a game makes the most sense. We are dealing with a lot more at our jobs than just language skills. I’ve used board games in speech therapy to break the ice with new groups, to boost a student’s confidence after a rough session or two, or to get to know my students beyond the classroom. But, when you’re using a board game intentionally to target language skills in speech therapy, try using my tips above and see if they help!
Some of My Favorite Speech Therapy Board Games
If you’re interested in learning about my favorite board games that I like to use in speech therapy, check out some of the posts below:
- Best Speech Therapy Games for Drill By Age
- Visuals for Hedbandz, Jeepers Peepers, and 20 Questions
I’d love to hear! Do you use board games in speech therapy? Which ones are your favorites?
Thanks for reading!