Written by Senior Speech Pathologist Liselle Grant.
As part of a family-centred approach, Speech Pathologists will often show parents what is required for home practice between sessions.
Doing home practice with your child is a way of increasing the frequency of speech-intervention. For example with regards to Speech Sound Disorders (SSDs), research shows that effectiveness is linked to increased frequency (Sugden et al. 2019, p. 5). Often Speech Pathologists will ask parents to complete 5-15 minutes of home practice 5-7 times per week. In a recent study regarding SSDs, 95.8% of Speech Pathologists agreed or strongly agreed that “family involvement is essential for intervention to be effective”(Sugden 2018, p. 766).
Researchers report that many insights relating to SSD home practice can also relate to other early developmental disorders (Sugden et al. 2019, p. 34). For example Social Skills will also benefit from increased frequency of practice and from rehearsal in different real life settings (Spence 2003, p.7).
So whether your child is working on speech sounds, social skills or language goals, following through on some home practice of strategies between your Speech sessions is important. However the challenge for parents is often how to find the time to make the practice happen.
One suggestion is to incorporate the practice into your existing home routine. For example why not use the time in the car on the way to or from kinder/school as time to model language goals (e.g. if you are targeting ‘his/her’ you may have the opportunity to say something along the lines of “That woman just caught HER bus” or “That man is using HIS umbrella” etc).
On the other hand if speech sounds are being targeted, you could link brushing your child’s teeth with some speech sound practice. As this activity is usually done in the bathroom it can be handy to use the mirror to model and rehearse the lip, teeth and tongue positions required to clearly articulate the target sounds.
Alternatively if social skills and/or language are your focus, practice could be embedded in a number of your existing routines such as going to the shops. Why not role-play/rehearse with your child the steps required to ask the shop assistant a question? Then, if your child feels confident, you could encourage them to actually ask the question with support or watch your actual model. Opportunities for your child to practice social skills in a variety of real-life settings will greatly assist generalisation of these skills.
While regular practice improves frequency (linked to effectiveness), keeping practice contained to short bursts can help prevent practice from becoming onerous for your child. For the same reason it is important that practice follows-on from Speech sessions by keeping it fun and engaging.
Short and fun practice on a regular basis between Speech sessions can increase the likelihood your child will achieve their Speech Pathology goals.
Sugden, E, Baker, E Munro, N, Williams, AL, & Trivette, CM 2018, “An Australian survey of parent involvement in intervention for childhood speech sound disorders”, International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, vol. 20, no. 7, pp. 766-778
Sugden, E, Munro, N, Trivette, CM, Baker, E, & Williams, AL 2019, “Parents’ Experiences of Completing Home Practice for Speech Sound Disorders”, Journal of Early Intervention, vol. 41 no. 2, pp. 159-181
Spence, SH 2003, “Social Skills Training with Children and Young People: Theory, Evidence and Practice”, Child and Adolescent Mental Health, vol 8, no. 2, pp. 84–96