Can speech therapy be done in 5 minutes? Should it be done in 5 minutes? Speech-language pathologist Carrie Clark explores how long a speech session should be at home or in speech therapy. Plus, Carrie discusses the merits of the 5-minute speech session model and how it is helping some SLPs reduce the number of minutes each child is seen while shortening the amount of total time they are in speech therapy.
How Long Should Speech Therapy Sessions Last?
- All kids are different, each one needs different about. Talk to speech therapist
- Basic Learning
- More practice is better
- More repetitions are better (re-train brain and muscles)
- Doesn’t help to practice the wrong way
- Willingham in 2002 found: distributed practice (shorter more frequent sessions) were more effective than mass practice (longer, less frequent sessions)
- Shorter session require attention for a shorter time, fewer inappropriate behaviors
- ASHA Preschool NOMS: Articulation, Pragmatics, and Cognitive Orientation did better with individual therapy, didn’t matter for spoken language production and comprehension
- Kids in groups often get fewer reps
- Groups are needed for some skills
- What do we want?
- A lot of repetitions of the correct way per session
- shorter sessions
- individual sessions
- Home Practice:
- Good news for parents, you can do this easily!
- Use what your SLP gives you, or find the hardest level of a skill that your child can do successfully
- Do short practice sessions with many reps
- Limit distractions, just one-on-one with your child
- My Experience: Do best with 2 times per day for 5-10 minutes per session
- For SLPs: To make maximum progress, send homework that is the hardest level the child can do independently and instruct parents to run through the skill 2x per day
- How to Do as SLP in School?
- High caseload, each child has many minutes, need to group to get them all in, possibly scheduled at multiple schools throughout the week
- www.5minutekids.com has a very cool idea
- 5-minute sessions
- several times per week
- individual therapy
- Research on their website about how it works (don’t know if this research is peer reviewed but definitely worth looking into):
- Students went from avg 210 minutes per month of therapy to 35 minutes per month (16% of the time)
- Went from average of 15 months in therapy to 9.5 months (finished in 63% of the time)
- Key is getting a whole bunch of repetitions in a short amount of time and doing that more frequently (50-100 reps per session)
- How many sessions?
- Mild Disorder 2-3 sessions weekly
- Moderate Disorder 3-4 sessions weekly
- Severe Disorder 4-5 sessions weekly
- If only schedule in school 2 days per week, do 2x per day, 2 days per week
- If you do this, each child will have fewer total minutes but progress faster
- Study was done on speech sounds but could be used for language as well
- How to get that many reps in without child losing interest:
- www.5minutekids.com has games you can play
- One idea from them is to have a bag full of coins. One coin is red. Child and therapist take turns pulling out coins (child says word before each coin). If the red coin is pulled, that person has to put all of their coins back (bankrupt!). Person with the most coins at the end of 5 minutes wins.
- Do motor challenges while they say their words:
- How many of your words can you say (correctly) while holding this yoga pose? Have a selection of yoga poses to choose from. I like yoga pretzels cards or look some up online
- How many words can you say while doing a motor task like standing on one foot?
- Trace lines or shapes with dry erase markers while saying words
Another Approach: Speedy Speech
I just spoke with the owners of “Speedy Speech” which is another program for shorter, individual speech sessions. Here’s what she has to say about their program (which looks awesome in my opinion!)
Speedy Speech™ has a…
- Step-by-Step Manual,
- the Auditory Bombardment is organized in minimal triplet sets,
- 4 sections of Auditory Discrimination sets on one page,
- and the colorful picture, work/phrase/sentence are on one page organized in one and two syllable sections.
- Also included is a reproducible yearly calendar,
- parent and teacher letters to introduce the program and for any changes,
- and parent/student rating scale.
- The Therapy Log form is designed to help track individual progress and evaluate/measure student performance on a session by session basis. It is organized for quick and easy data entry.
We designed the program so that a SLP sees the child for approximately 10 minutes, included the relevant homework review, drill, marks the Log Sheet and is finished for the day. No nightly/weekend work! No looking for activities, lessons, games, homework, etc. Start the next session where you left off. The work was ALL done for an SLP. Teachers and parents love the quickness of not having the child out of the classroom and students out of therapy in less time. All data, research driven.
The HOME page is http://www.speedyspeechtherapy.com/index.html and the PROGRAM SAMPLE page is http://www.speedyspeechtherapy.com/ProgramSamples.html
Thanks for Listening!
As always, I would love for you to leave an honest review on i-Tunes so we can get the word out about this podcast. As a thank you, I am giving away a free copy of my e-book about how to teach a new speech sound to anyone who leaves me an honest review on i-Tunes. You can claim that free e-book by visiting www.SpeechAndLanguageKids.com/podcastoffer
Willingham, D (2002) Allocating Student Study Time: Massed versus “Distributed”
Practice American Educator
This article gives you tips that teach you how to get your kids to listen to you, show you respect, and connect with you. Working as a residential counselor, behavior specialist, school psychologist, assistant teacher, tutor, mobile therapist, and babysitter, I have used all the strategies in this article with my own clients and students (except the ones that are more appropriate for the parent-child relationship), and these are the strategies that have been the most effective for getting them to listen to my rules and directions, show me respect, and connect with me. I also know parents and teachers who use many of these strategies and have great success. With my own three-year-old old son, I use the strategies that apply for his age level, and I can’t wait to use them all as he grows.
In my profession I have often heard comments such as “This won’t work because of …,” “There is no time for this,” or “We are coddling our kids too much; it’s not like this in the real world.” This is what I have to say to those comments like those…There is no magic answer. All we can do is try our best. I know that for me, yelling, punishment, and lectures don’t work for getting kids to listen, show respect, or connect, and these strategies do. As far as things not being like this in the real world…they should be. Here it goes…
1. Set expectations for your child and allow him/her to earn privileges, rather than taking privileges away after he does not follow your expectations. For example, tell your child that after school every day he can eat a snack and then he has to do his homework. After his homework he can do an activity of his choice (e.g., watch TV, play with toys, go on the computer, etc). This is much more effective than pressuring a child to do his homework, and then saying “That’s it. You’re not watching TV!” when he doesn’t complete it. Children are much more cooperative when they know the expectations ahead of time and have the power to earn something, than when being threatened that something will be taken away.
Related Article: 25 Privileges You Can Let Your Child Earn for Good Behavior
2. Be consistent and always follow through (barring unforeseen circumstances). If you tell your child that he can earn a privilege for completing certain tasks or meeting certain expectations, stick to what you said (e.g., first homework, then TV), and make sure you give the earned privilege after the task is completed. If you do not allow your child to earn the privileges you promised, he will not take you or your rules seriously. You also need to stay strong. When he pushes you “I don’t want to do my homework!” and tries to turn on the television, give a reminder in a confident, neutral tone, “Homework first, then tv.”
3. Keep calm. While it is human nature to get upset, do your best to keep a calm tone when enforcing your rules with your child. You can stick to what you say without yelling. Enforcing rules without yelling, teaches your child that it is possible to stay calm and still get things accomplished even when you are frustrated or things aren’t going your way. This is a great example to set for your child.
4. Encourage and allow creativity even if you think it is too messy. If your child wants to play in the dirt or make a milk-ketchup concoction, let her. Messes can always be cleaned up. If your child is old enough to clean up her own messes, make sure she knows ahead of time that she will be expected to clean up when she is done. Make sure she cleans up before moving on to an activity of her choice. Keep in mind that some children, especially younger children, may need help cleaning up.
5. Give your child choices. Children often seek control due to the fact that they are always being told what to do. Give your child choices you are comfortable with (e.g., “Do you want to wear the green shirt or red shirt?” “Do you want jelly or butter on your bagel?” “Do you want to do your math or reading homework first?”).
6. Tell your child what to do, instead of what not to do. Research, and my own experience of working with children for over 19 years, shows that children (even teenagers) respond better to specific directions than to being told not to do something.
Some examples include:
- “Keep working on your homework.” rather than “Stop daydreaming.”
- “Here, draw on this paper.” rather than “Stop drawing on the walls.”
- “Hand me my purse.” rather than “Stop going in my purse.”
- “Walk nicely in the house.” rather than “Stop running in the house.”
Don’t say “can” when giving a direction, such as “Can you walk nicely in the house?” or “Can you draw on this paper?” Give the direction and say it with confidence.
7. Take an interest when your child tells you something about his thoughts, feelings, ideas, or just about his day. Children are often excited to tell their parents something (e.g., “Guess what my teacher said in class today?” “I think I know what I want to be when I grow up.” “If I was president, I would make sure there were no more bad guys.”). No matter how insignificant you think it is or if you just don’t feel like listening, do it anyway. When your kids know you listen and care about what they say, they will come to you about important stuff, the stuff you want them to tell you about. It also helps their self-esteem and confidence to feel like what they say matters. Kids with good self-esteem and confidence in themselves make better choices in general.
8. Take an interest when your child shows you something he did. Working as a school psychologist over the years and even among my own friends, I have seen many kids show their parents a picture they drew or a dance move they learned, only for the parent to not say anything. Children want to feel like we care about the things they are excited about, the things they did for the first time, the things they did by themselves, or the things they created. Even if you think it is no big deal, it is a big deal to them and that should be enough to make it a big deal for you. Again, this helps with confidence and self-esteem.
9. Acknowledge when your child puts forth good effort. People like to hear when they did something right and this includes children. When people know they are doing the right things and pleasing others, they want to do more of it. Some examples for acknowledging effort include: “You worked really hard on cleaning your room; it looks great,” “I saw you studying really hard for that test; you really put a lot of effort into it,” “I know you don’t like sharing your toys with your brother; but I saw you sharing really nicely with him this morning! Keep up the good work!” Even if your child does not seem to care or does not seem phased by the praise, do it anyway. Their reaction on the outside may not match how they feel on the inside.
10. Let your child know that you understand when he/she is upset about something (teach and show empathy). Some examples include: “I know you are upset that you didn’t get invited to that birthday party; it hurts not to feel included.” or “I know this homework assignment is frustrating you; let me see how I can help you with it.”
11. Listen to your child’s side of the story. If you get a phone call from another parent or a teacher about something your child did wrong, take the time to hear what your child has to say. Even if your child was wrong, it is important for him/her to feel heard by you and you may get to know your child a little better in the process. You can also use the opportunity as a teaching moment. For example, if your child kept talking in class to a friend because he was upset about something that happened at recess, talk to your child about alternative strategies he/she could have used other than disrupting the class (e.g., asking to talk to a guidance counselor, talking to his friend at the end of the day, talking to you about it after school, etc.). This would also be a good time to remind your child that even when we are upset or don’t agree with something, we still have to follow the rules.
12. Tell your child about you. While some things are your personal business and not meant for your child’s ears, kids feel connected to their parents when their parents can open up to them. For example, tell them about your school days, your hobbies, your dreams. Your child will be more likely to open up to you if you can open up to him/her.
13. Make time to do things with your child. We are all busy. Some days fly by so fast that it seems like you got nothing done on your to-do list, yet you haven’t sat down once. In the midst of this craziness we call life, find time. Whether it is five minutes a day or a few hours on the weekend, spend quality time with your child. Some examples of quality time could include talking about your day, watching a movie together, reading a book together, going to the park, going out for dinner, cooking together, fixing something or making something together, etc. If your child does not want to do these things with you, still ask, make an effort, make yourself available, and keep trying.
14. Show your child what good behavior looks like. Children often get punished for behavior rather than being taught or shown an alternative strategy or different behavior. Here is an example:
Teach your child how to ask for things — if you see your child snatch a toy from another child, teach him how to ask for the toy rather than yelling or punishing him for snatching the toy. Show him how to ask and have him practice it. Next time you see your child asking nicely for a toy, acknowledge the behavior (e.g.,That was really nice when you asked Michael to play with his toy).
15. Encourage your child to be independent. Let your child do as much as he can on his own, providing assistance only when necessary. One strategy I love, is to wait for the child to ask for help before offering it. I have watched a child struggle to get the wrapper off his juice box straw on several occasions. Rather than saying “Here, let me help you,” I would simply wait to see what he would do. Sometimes he would ask for help, other times he would eventually get it on his own. In some instances the child would get frustrated, throw down the straw and say, “I can’t do it.” This led to a perfect opportunity to teach the child how to ask for help.
16. Notice possible hidden talents. Sometimes children do things that we find annoying that could actually be channeled into something positive. For example, a kid who always wants to run in the house might be a good candidate to be your running partner. A child who is always banging on the table might do well at the drums. Ask your child if they would like to try something positive, rather than getting frustrated and annoyed at the behavior.
17. Say “good morning,” and “goodnight,” (or some variation of those) and “I love you” every day — We all get busy, but this is an important one. Feeling loved, wanted, noticed, and acknowledged by our parents, is one of the best things for our self-esteem. Even if you are not the lovey-dovey type, do it for your child. Make time for affection too (hugs, kisses, etc.). Older children may not want affection but making an effort to give a hug or even asking for hug is a great way to show you care.
Keep in mind: for some children, they may actually get more resistant when you try new strategies. You may need to be consistent over a period of time before you see change. Also, even if you don’t get the results you hoped for, know that you are doing your part to use positive strategies to help your child. If things feel out of control seek help from a mental health or medical professional.
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Written by Rachel Wise
Rachel Wise is the founder and CEO of educationandbehavior.com. She is also a nationally certified school psychologist and licensed behavior specialist with a master’s degree in education. Rachel has 20 years of experience working with individuals with academic and behavioral needs.
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