Parents, if you have found this blog looking for resources for parents help their child practice their speech therapy goals at home, thank you for wanting to be part of the team! I have some great products that are perfect for home practice, depending on your child’s goals. I highly recommend that you reach out to your child’s SLP with any questions and to request practice activities or homework if that is something you can work into your home routine.
SLPs, many Speechy Musings products are perfect resources for parents because they are no-prep, consistent means of practice. Once you teach and establish skills with your students, you can use these resources to easily send home practice. I want to share some of my favorite tools and resources for parents
Including parents as part of the team can be a game-changer for our students!
Special education can be incredibly complicated. School SLPs live in that environment daily and learn the language (all those acronyms!) from full time, daily exposure. Parents don’t have that luxury, especially parents who are entering special education for the first time. We can begin by using parent-friendly language in our IEPs. But,ometimes they might not even know what questions to ask because this is all so new.
And so, it’s our job to help coach the parents through the process.
Every family is coming from a different place and has a varied capacity for involvement in this process. There is a spectrum of family involvement, from the uninvolved to the micromanagers, but I think most parents fall somewhere in the middle. While it is always appreciated when a parent will trust us to do our best for their student, they might not even realize that we would love to have them as a member of the team, not just as a consent giver.
IS THERE ANY RESEARCH ON HOME PRACTICE?
We can provide resources for parents in three ways:
- Consistent communication throughout the year
- Home Practice
#1: Communication Resources for Parents
We want our parents to be excited and involved. Including them through frequent communication will help them feel involved and learn more about the process that their child is going through. Parents usually have a lot going on, but by reaching out consistently, you are reminding them that you exist and are available if they have any questions or concerns at any time.
Monthly newsletters are a great way to keep parents in the loop and give some general tips. The Speechy Musings editable monthly newsletters are a perfect, no-prep way to efficiently work some parent contact into your busy schedule. Everything is filled out for you, but can be changed if needed.
#2: Coaching Resources for Parents
No matter what goal your speech therapy kids are working on, you can give some basic tips. This can be as simple as sharing a verbal or visual cue for an articulation student, or a list of general tips for a language student. Coaching can be even more involved for kids who stutter because we need to help parents understand and accept the stutters.
For kids who use AAC devices, parent involvement is key. If the AAC solution you came up with is not working for the family, it’s not going to work at all. That device is going to be abandoned. We can get indignant about our hard work not being valued, or we can do it right.
Of course, that begins with a thorough and realistic AAC evaluation when you interview the family, explain how AAC works (model, model, model!), and ask them to reflect on what challenges they might have with a system. Make sure if they have a high tech AAC device that you provide them with a low tech core board option too.
My AAC Implementation Toolkit contains a wealth of information, available in English and Spanish. I’ve included lots of handouts and training materials for the whole team! It includes presentation slides to guide your discussions, as well as monthly challenges and handouts. It really includes everything you need to maintain a consistent coaching schedule all year long and keep families on track.
#3: Homework and Practice Sheets
Family life is busy!
Our families might not have a lot of time to devote to speech therapy homework, and some of our students will be struggling with their regular homework due to their speech impairment.
Not only that, but in many parts of the country, schools are getting rid of or reducing homework all together.
While copious amounts of homework might be redundant for a lot of subjects, speech therapy doesn’t generally occur every day. Our students need some practice in between sessions if we want to see progress.
The first trick is to see what you can include in their already busy schedules.
For articulation, this isn’t too hard:
- Look for your sound while reading a book and practice saying it
- Say 5 words with your sound in it every time you hit a red light
- Look for your sound in your homework, highlight it, and say it out loud
The key to those types of practice activities is that the students have to know their goals! And families too. Give them just one sound at a time to think about and practice at home. (First, make sure they are reasonably well established at the single word level for that target!).
If families need a little more help, try my No Prep Articulation Using High Frequency Words worksheets. They can be printed and sent home when the child can complete that level mostly independently. The best thing about the high frequency words is that you hear them all day long. If you practice saying “the” 20 times, it will stick out to the whole family all day long.
For language goals, it can be good for families to keep general language skills in mind. A great way to involve families is with my One Sheet Language Lessons available in upper and lower levels. These include a wide variety of language goals that most kids with language impairments will need to work on. They are not as focused as the work we do in therapy, but provide great practice material in a way that is easy for families to implement.
For any children with reading struggles, these Daily Phonological Awareness Questions are perfect for home practice every day! We might not get to see our students every day. But these super quick activities can provide practice and demonstrate to parents the kinds of skills that are vital building blocks to reading.
As parents understand what we do better, they will find other ways to ask the same types of questions throughout the day. Can you say major carryover?
Let’s face it, many people don’t understand what SLPs do. It might seem like too much to add to our already full jobs to make an extra effort with parents (and staff). Truly though, in the end our jobs will be easier if we bring on the whole team and our students will be making more progress.
I’d love to hear, what winning strategies have you used to help parents get involved?