Working with children

Speech therapy  involves working with children individually, in a  small group,  or with a whole class on receptive and expressive language skills.   The best progress is made when you can get a child or children to respond correctly multiple times during  a  short period of time using targeted vocabulary or a specific skill.  It can actually be a benefit to have a small group of children because it provides the opportunity to build social language skills as well as their targeted speech skills.   Children who have difficulty speaking sometimes are reluctant to speak and therefore do not get as much practice.  In classrooms or even in a family, other children tend to speak for them. 

  As a speech therapist of elementary students,  I place emphasis on the auditory and verbal aspects of language.  Therefore, I do not use worksheets very often.   I use cards with the written word or pictures to provide a visual input and reinforce reading.  I have them read the card out loud or I may read the card with them.  In this way the child or children in the group receive auditory information also.  That information  is then used to give an appropriate response.   I find if I  require children to read and fill out worksheets  I do not get enough responses.  It’s not uncommon for children with speech delays to have diffiuclty with reading and written forms  as these are later developing skills that depend on language as a foundation.   Also there is often more than one correct response and this can start a group discussion.  I try to develop opportunities  for the natural development of  language skills rather  than memorizing grammatical structures.

     I’ve found response cards to be the best method of organization when working with several kids in a group.  Each child is given a  deck of cards for their targeted skill.  They give responses  appropriate for their card when taking their turn.  This allows each child an appropriate time to respond first and promotes turn taking.  The other children in the group can then give their input if they think another answer is appropriate or possible.  This keeps everyone engaged.   I only judge the response of the child with the card for data keeping purposes.  Anyone working with children in a group are familiar with the problem of one or mor children blurting out answers when it isn’t their turn.    The card gives me the time to focus on a particular child because everyone knows it’s his turn and they can not give the first answer.  By using a variety of decks, children can work on different skills within the same group.  I keep my sanity by not shuffling  too many papers as I  try to keep track of performance.

 Speech Therapist are often known as the teacher with all the games.  I must admit that I find games to be useful for motivation and also to teach turn taking skills.  Don’t underestimate turn taking as a skill.   Many children  with language delays do not have the opportunity to interact with multiple people and are lacking in this skill.  Go fish and the memory game are traditional favorites for getting multiple responses in a short period of time.  I’ve found the games with quick turn taking such as “Kerplunk” and “Blockhead” to be very useful as well.  Of course the traditional board game works also.  I just switch my cards into the playing field.

The last few years, speech therapist have found themselves  teaching within the classroom setting.   The trend has been toward giving intervention within the natural setting  of the classroom before  determining the need for special education and pull-out services.  To meet this need I have gone into the kindergarten classrooms and organized weekly lessons on basic concepts and direction taking.  With the older grades, the counselor and I  formed  groups  to address social pragmatic skills.  Some of the activities on this site are from those sessions.   I would like to know what others have done to address these needs.  Please comment below.

 © Cynthia Montalbano and In Spontaneous Speech, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cynthia Montalbano and In Spontaneous Speech with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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