Tips and Resources

4 Secrets of Speech Therapy Success for Children

We’re honored to have the chance to work with you and your child, and we want you to have the information you need to get the most out of speech therapy. So let’s take a look at four things that can make a big difference: your involvement in your child’s therapy sessions, consistent practice at home, regular session attendance, and patience for the journey.

At Expressable, it’s our goal to empower parents and caregivers to embrace their role in their child’s communication development. Children learn best from those they spend the most time with and love the most–that’s you! That’s why the partnership you form with your child’s speech therapist is so vital.

It can be easy to assume that your speech therapist is the only one with the keys to your child’s success. While speech-language pathologists are educated, trained, and licensed to treat speech and language issues, they also serve as a type of coach. They help your child grow and progress, and they act as a coach for you, too, showing you how to help your child practice their communication in everyday settings.

In other words: Your speech therapist will guide the course of your child’s treatment, but it’s essential that you come along for the journey, as well.

Let’s talk more about your role during speech therapy sessions. For children up to 6 years old, we recommend that a parent or caregiver stay present for the majority of all the sessions. That way you can help keep your kiddo engaged and observe how the speech therapist is addressing goals and providing cues. You can also communicate with them throughout the session.

For children age 7 and older, caregivers are encouraged to attend as much of the session as they’re able. However, when it’s appropriate, older children can often attend the majority of the session independently. Still, we recommend that caregivers spend at least a few minutes of the session with the therapist to review progress and learn how they can support continued practice at home. Caregivers are always encouraged to stay in communication with their child’s speech therapist, whether they attend sessions or not. You can text your child’s therapist whenever you need to get in touch.

Just like any new skill that you’re learning–whether it’s tennis, the piano, or a new language–the more you practice, the more quickly you’ll make progress. That’s why at Expressable, your speech therapist will provide your child with a practice activity after every speech therapy session. We call them home programs.

Your speech therapist will choose each home program based on how your child did in therapy that day, what they worked on, and what their treatment goals are. They’ll send the home program to you electronically and explain any details you need to know. 

Your therapist will choose engaging practice activities and games that fit easily into your daily routine. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about a home program, or ask for changes to help fit your family’s needs–that’s what your speech therapist is there for!

We recommend that you practice your home program several times a week. If you can practice daily, that’s even better! So much research has been conducted on  successful speech therapy outcomes, and one key factor is increasingly clear: the more time you spend interacting with your child–incorporating the same skill-building techniques that your speech therapist uses–the more progress your child will make. This way, instead of just practicing during speech therapy 30 or 60 minutes a week, your child is practicing every day. More practice equals more progress, meaning your child will reach their goals and graduate from speech therapy faster.

The best part is that home practice doesn’t have to be anything elaborate or time-consuming. You don’t need any special materials, and you can do many of these activities with your child during your daily routine, such as when you’re in the car, running errands, playing, or getting ready for bed. Even just 5 to 10 minutes a day can help your child reach new speech goals faster.

Here’s one more helpful hint: When you access Expressable’s home programs, the system will ask you to let your speech therapist know how your child did. You can even upload a video of your child practicing. Your feedback here is important! It will help your speech therapist know how to adjust the next session to better fit your kiddo’s current progress. We aim to tailor speech therapy to each unique child, and your updates will help your therapist do just that.

So to sum up: Consistent home practice helps children make more progress, more quickly. And who doesn’t want that?!

By this point, this next tip probably goes without saying. But it’s so important that I just can’t skip over it. Attending sessions consistently is also key to your child’s success. We know you’re busy! And with packed family schedules, it can be tempting to skip a session here and there. But missed sessions really do add up over time! If your child attends speech therapy once a week, skipping a session means they won’t receive therapy for two whole weeks. There is so much progress that can be made at each session and with its related home practice. And the flip side is also true, that progress might slip backward in those two weeks. Attending sessions consistently helps you keep the momentum going.

Finally, one last secret to success is understanding the speech therapy journey–how quickly you might see progress, and how long speech therapy might take.

Like many things, improving speech and language skills is incremental. Whether your child is learning to imitate words, or pronounce a new speech sound, there are steps that need to be followed, one building upon the next. And to reach those goals, we can’t leapfrog over steps. Think about it: If a kiddo can’t pronounce the /l/ sound on its own, they won’t be able to use that sound in conversation! That’s why your speech therapist develops a specific care plan for your child, detailing each short-term goal they need to meet in order to achieve their ultimate goals.

Many parents ask how long speech therapy will take. I wish there was one easy answer, but the duration of therapy is different for everyone. We do know, however, that certain factors play a role. Some of them will sound familiar! They include the child’s age, their speech disorder or communication challenge, and any underlying medical conditions. But length of therapy also depends heavily on how often you attend sessions and how often you practice at home.

You see your child every day, and you might not always notice the progress they’re making. But rest assured, your speech therapist is listening closely during each session and monitoring your child’s growth. They’ll encourage you to record your child’s speech once in awhile for comparison–you’ll likely be amazed by how much they’ve progressed! So, before we wrap up, here’s a quick recap of the four secrets of speech therapy success.

The first is caregiver involvement. Attending sessions and learning how to help your child practice their communication every day is vital to their success.

The second is consistent home practice. Just like any new skill, the more you practice, the more quickly you’ll make progress. That’s why your speech therapist will assign your child a home program after every session. 

The third is regular attendance. Attending sessions consistently helps your child continue to build their skills and keep their momentum going. And the fourth is patience for the journey. While you might not notice progress overnight, rest assured, your speech therapist is tracking your child’s growth toward their goals.

Remember, our goal is to help your child get the most out of speech therapy as possible. As their caregiver, you play an essential role in helping that happen. Expressable speech therapy works because of who you are, not who you have to become. You’re an expert in your child. We’re experts in communication. Let’s help your child learn together!

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