Skill cycling is the topic of this article! Ever heard of it before? No? That’s because it’s a term I made up! 😂
But, I wanted to share this idea with you as I think it’s a helpful concept for SLPs, especially school-based SLPs with large caseloads.
So let’s dive right in! ⬇️
Generally speaking, if you write therapy goals for a child, there are 3 different ways to to organize how to target those goals. You can target the goals vertically, one a time, not moving on each goal is met. Or, you could target the goals horizontally, targeting all of the goals within each session. Or, you could target the goals cyclically, cycling through a series of skills on a predetermined schedule.
The more I leaned into cyclical goal/skill targeting (sometimes also called “interleaving”) in my sessions, the more I liked it, and the more I liked the benefits it gave me when therapy planning for groups with a variety of language goals.
So, I began calling this “skill cycling”. It’s sort of like Cycles for Phonology… but for language skills!
Here’s an example of how you might cycle through a variety of language areas using a text or picture book:
Not sold yet? Here’s a few of the biggest benefits of organizing your therapy this way:
- Cycling through different skills or areas allows you contrast different targets to each other. “Remember when we talked about X, now we’re going to learn about Y.” Doing this might help some students see similarities and differences between targets.
- Skill cycling allows you to target multiple targets without waiting for mastery of one. This can decrease frustration as you’re not stuck targeting the same thing over and over and over.
- Language skills develop gradually. Skill cycling makes the most sense for skills like this as it allows for development to occur between each time you target the skill.
- Skill cycling also allows you to increase the dosage (briefly). You can target a skill more intensively for a short amount of time and then move on.
Want to see what this might look this in therapy using a wordless picture book to target language skills? Click here to learn more about my Story System. You could use that system to cycle through language skills using picture books or texts (my story units have this built in!).
Also, in full transparency, I need to mention that this is my *very* ideal skill sequence.
In practice, I mix things up fairly often. This is because real life doesn’t always look like a perfectly executed series of steps like this. Sometimes, if a student with the biggest vocabulary needs was absent on vocabulary week, I’d swap out the vocabulary lesson I had planned. If I had to miss a group due to an IEP meeting one week, sometimes I’d just skip that content all together and keep on moving. Sometimes I didn’t.
It all ebbs and flows so don’t be too hard on yourself if this consistent cycle isn’t something you’re able to maintain perfectly! This is simply an example sequence to get you started. Do what works best for you, your caseload, and your needs. ❤️
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