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How to Maintain Speech-Language Progress Between Sessions

Updated: Feb 22

As you and your child begin the speech-language journey, you may wonder how to maintain the positive momentum between speech therapy sessions.


Or, perhaps your child has been taking speech therapy lessons for a while, and the therapist has suggested fewer sessions, and you are worried your child still needs the extra support. Caregivers can help their children practice speech-language skills in several ways at home. These strategies can be incorporated into activities already present in your daily schedule.


We have compiled 10 ways you can help your child maintain their speech-language progress between sessions.





How Often Do Most Children Have Speech Therapy?


According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 5% of children ages 3-17 in the US have a speech disorder. Speech and language difficulties come in many different forms. Some children have severe language impairments while others have mild communication issues.


When your child is first seen by a speech-language pathologist (SLP), he or she will perform a speech and language evaluation. This evaluation will tell the clinician how severe the language, voice, speech, or sound issue is.


Based on that information and observations from caregivers, the therapist will put together a plan that best meets your child’s needs. They will set speech goals and work with you and your child each session to achieve those goals with what is called a treatment plan. 


The frequency of speech-language therapy sessions depends on the condition your child has. Children with articulation or phonological processing disorders need around 30-minute sessions twice a week. Others may only attend speech therapy sessions once a week.


Some children with severe issues may need more frequent sessions. The more regularly your child attends speech therapy, the better the progress. However, busy schedules, holidays, and sickness may affect your child getting into the speech-language pathologist’s office, on occasion.


Unfortunately, another issue many SLP offices face is a long waitlist and large caseloads which leads to delayed sessions for each child. It’s during these times that you may worry your child is losing the practice he or she needs to keep making progress.  


The California Scottish Rite Foundation has 17 Rite Care Language Centers that provide services to over 2,300 children with speech, language, and literacy disorders. Our centers can provide diagnostic evaluations and treatment for speech and language disorders.


We also treat learning disabilities, as well. With centers, in Southern, Northern, and Central California, you can find a facility for your child at no cost to your family.


Do Speech-Language Therapy Sessions Become Less Frequent As Your Child Progresses? 


Caregivers must ensure their child attends regular speech therapy sessions. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, around 50% of US children with speech, voice, and language disorders between ages 3-17 did not receive intervention services.


Without intervention, it is harder for your child to make positive progress toward correcting their speech, language, and voice. They also tend to experience more bullying and less confidence without these services.


Regular speech therapy sessions help to reinforce language strategies the therapist is working on with your child. Maintaining this consistency makes it easier for your child to make faster progress.  Most children will be in speech therapy for several months and many will be in it for years. 


Your speech therapist may suggest more frequent sessions if your child is not progressing toward their goals. But, if your child is progressing well, the SLP may suggest reducing the number of sessions per week.


This may seem scary, at first, especially if your child has worked hard to get where they are at. You don’t want your child to suffer a regression, pushing them back in their progress. This is why you may be looking for ways you can ensure your child keeps practicing their language skills in between their sessions. 





10 Ways to Work on Speech Language Goals at Home


If you are looking for ways to supplement your child’s speech therapy at home, we have some strategies you can use to help your child keep moving forward.


Whether you want to bolster their skills during times you cannot make it to the SLP office or to provide at-home support as your child begins to graduate from speech therapy, these 10 strategies are easy, efficient ways to maintain speech language progress between sessions.


1. Set Goals


Just as your child’s therapist does, you need to create goals together for what you want to accomplish by practicing at home in between speech therapy sessions. It is important to be transparent with your child and explain the reasoning behind practicing at home. Together you can come up with communication goals you believe are achievable while waiting for your next session.


The best way to create goals is by thinking about smaller parts of the larger issues. You can also mirror the goals your SLP has suggested in the office. You want to make sure these goals are achievable and are not overwhelming for you or your child.


You may want to start with something as simple as practicing a certain strategy for 15 minutes a day. Making the duration of your at-home sessions shorter will ensure your child’s engagement and that you will have time to work with your child through their at-home practice.


You can also consider rewarding your child with something they like after they meet a goal. This could be something small like an ice cream—anything motivating that will encourage your child to practice at home. 


2. Frequently Repeat Exercises At Home


Another important strategy for home practice is to take the new skills your child has learned in their speech therapy session and repeat them often at home. This way, your child is getting constant exposure to these strategies, making them more natural. This carryover into the home will allow these new skills to be tested outside of the therapy room.


Many children will feel much more comfortable trying out strategies that may be more difficult at home where they feel safer. 


3. Be Consistent


Parent involvement in language sessions can be the key to your child’s success. Your input can make their involvement in speech therapy feel more meaningful. If you work on these skills at home, it is important to be consistent.


Children thrive under consistency. If your child knows when to expect you to practice together, they can get in the habit, which will make the home practice feel less scary. Consistency also works best in reinforcing therapy goals for your child. The more your child practices, the better they progress.


4. Celebrate Success


Whether your child is making small progress in the therapy room or at home, it is important to reward their forward movement. Even if they make small progress in their communication skills, you can make a big deal out of it.


Treats, stickers, praise, and special outings can be a great way to let your child know you acknowledge their hard work and are proud of their progress. Positive reinforcement is an excellent strategy for encouraging your child to continue their practice at home. 


5. Use Strategies From Your Child’s SLP


Many SLPs will give the parent and child “homework.” This homework is usually in the form of strategies or skills that they want you all to practice together to reinforce what they are working on in the office. 


You don’t need to get a bunch of resources and extra items to practice with your child at home. Spending a few minutes each day going over the strategies your child’s SLP suggested is an easy and effective way of assisting your child with their speech goals. 


Many SLPs are trained in giving children and families ways to help their child develop not only language skills but increased self-confidence, as well. The California Scottish Rite Foundation provides life-changing speech-language and literacy programs for children.


We have individualized services that address the needs of developing children and their families. These services are provided at no cost to the family because donors and granting foundations help fund the resources our Speech-Language pathologists use to help your child on the pathway to success. 


6. Teach Self-Advocacy


As your child’s communication skills improve, you will want to teach your child to still advocate for themselves. Some children will always have certain speech, language, voice, or hearing issues.


It is important to encourage and teach your child how to ask for help and explain to teachers and others that they need accommodations. Although you can advocate for your child for a long time, as your child gets older, the responsibility will fall on them to seek out help when they need it.


7. Model Language


Another simple way to maintain your child’s progress between speech-language sessions is to model language. This can be by having a conversation in the car or at the dinner table. When you speak to others, the greetings and tones you use are great teaching tools. Your child will emulate the way you speak and communicate with those around you.


You can even practice greetings and conversations by playing games like house or restaurant. In these games, you and your child can play-act conversations that people have in everyday life. This will teach them the skills they need to successfully communicate in the world. 


8. Practice With Games


For preschoolers, children who have trouble focusing, and most children, games are an excellent way to engage your child in speech-language practice. You can make up games with flashcards that encourage your child to describe the image, using and developing vocabulary to speak about common objects. 


Making silly sounds can also help your child practice mouth movements and sounds in a much less intimidating way. You can play story games where you pause in the middle of a sentence and your child completes the thought. These types of games will encourage your child to describe, speak, and converse in new ways. 


9. Avoid Over Practicing


As with everything, too much can be a bad thing. Children need to be able to play and express themselves without worrying that what they are saying and doing is being evaluated. Even though practicing speech skills constantly may seem like the best way to ensure your child continues their progress, too much practicing can cause your child to start refusing to practice. 


They may begin to avoid speaking to you to get out of having to practice language skills. While practicing at home is an important part of maintaining progress from speech-language therapy, it should be coupled with a genuine connection with your child aside from working on speech skills.


10. Read to Your Child


Reading daily to children at home from an early age helps children to build a child's exposure to language, reading comprehension, vocabulary, and language skills. It also helps encourage reading skills and activates areas of the brain that are connected with visual imagery. 


When your child hears you read, they are building connections with their caregiver, are hearing an example of language, and are learning new vocabulary. Reading can assist your child in reaching their speech, language, and voice goals, as well as helping them to learn to read. Many children with speech and language disorders also have difficulty with reading and writing. 


Reading to your child is a fun and easy way to encourage language development, and you can begin doing this at any age. If you don’t have a lot of money for books or don’t have books at home, the local library is a wonderful resource for finding books you and your child will enjoy together. 


Conclusion


Whether your child is graduating from frequent speech-language therapy sessions or you want to speed up their progress and reinforce skills at home, there are several strategies for maintaining speech-language progress between sessions.


By utilizing these strategies, you can build a closer bond with your child and reinforce the language skills your SLP is working on with your child in therapy sessions. Even a few minutes of practicing a day can make a big difference in your child’s communication development.

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