Is Your Child Bored with Speech Therapy?
We’ve all been there before: your toddler gets hungry or bored in the supermarket and throws an embarrassing temper tantrum in aisle 3. Or your teenage son starts getting fidgety during a dinner party and tries to stick his spoon to his nose. Kids will be kids, but what do you do when your child is bored with his speech therapy activities? If your child’s speech-language pathologist (SLP) has informed you that little Matthew seems to be slacking off in his efforts during speech therapy, he might be getting bored with the activities. Most kids crave entertainment and stimulation. Instead of trying to cajole your child to put in more effort, change the method of instruction. Talk with the SLP about the current activities she is using during speech therapy sessions and review what you’re doing at home. To keep your child engaged in learning, a change is definitely in order.
Customizing Speech Therapy
Customizing your child’s speech therapy sessions to his interests is one way to capture his attention. Print out a cheat sheet of your child’s favorite movies, cartoon characters, sports, celebrities/athletes, toys, books, and songs, along with any other things you can think of that he likes. Give the cheat sheet to the speech therapist so that she can customize his speech therapy sessions to suit his interests. While Sarah might be bored to tears with flashcards for the “p” sound, she might happily repeat tongue twisters about her princess doll’s pretty purple pony, for example.
In addition to tongue twisters featuring your child’s favorite toys, there are other fun ways of eliciting certain sounds without resorting to straightforward drills. Speech Buddies are an option for teaching a child the correct tongue placement for individual sounds. Additionally, you can create speech therapy games centered on certain sounds.
For example, write words on cards and hide them around a darkened room. Equip yourself and your child with flashlights and hunt down the words. Upon finding a word, your child must pronounce it before placing it in his “Treasure Pile.” The person with the most cards wins.
Disguising Speech Therapy
You can also skip the flashcards altogether and disguise speech therapy activities with games. For example, do a different variation of the treasure hunt game by hiding toys around a room. Your child will ask for clues for each toy, but he must follow a format like “Is it inside the cupboard? Is it behind the couch?” This builds your child’s sentence formation skills and reinforces the use of prepositions.
As well, customize your child’s at-home speech therapy activities by incorporating them into his favorite activities or sports. For example, if he’s a fan of soccer, go outside and kick the ball with him. Adjust the rules to suit his speech therapy needs. For example, each time a person kicks the ball, he must think of (and say) a word that starts with “b” (or another sound that your child struggles with).
If your child loves cooking, bake cookies together. Instruct your child to sing exactly what he’s doing. For example, the two of you could make up a silly song about mixing the flour into the cookie dough and cutting the dough into animal shapes or other forms.
Progress Charts & Rewards
Provide an incentive for your child to complete his speech therapy assignments. Draw a progress chart and post it in a prominent place. Give your child a star sticker to place on his progress chart every time he successfully finishes an assignment or reaches a goal. When he collects a certain amount of stars, reward him with a small toy, a new book, or an afternoon matinee.