This page is designed for parents who have questions about the child’s speech and language development. Please visit my other pages too, especially Your Middle Schooler even if your child is years away from the tween years. Please contact me if you have any specific questions or need information in any specific area of speech and language development.
In my state, teachers and all professional staff have to generate personal SMART goals. With all the work SLPs do, the last thing I wanted to do was have to keep complicated data on something I was doing. At that point I decided to do something very easy for me that would benefit all students not just those with language issues. My SMART goal was to write monthly articles focusing on language development.
Initially, I found it wasn’t that easy to find universal themes that could be beneficial to all. However, knowing all we know about language and learning once I had a topic writing for parents was easy. I created articles about once or twice a month for that school year. The idea was well received by my principal. Basically it was free content for the school newsletter. Best of all if I published one article a month (sometimes weekly) I achieved my goal without extensive data collection.
I’ve slowly made these articles available to other SLPs on Teachers Pay Teachers. Here is my current list of articles available on TPT. These articles are written in a word document so they can be edited to fit the needs of you specific setting.
The School Newsletter: Practice Those Memory Skills-free
The School Newsletter: 10 tips to building a strong vocabulary (5 article series)
The School Newsletter: Don’t Drop Picture Books Too Soon
The School Newsletter: Don’t Forget The Details
The School Newsletter: Strengthen Language Skills Through Conversation
My section of the school newsletter was titled “Notes from the School Speech Therapist.” If I were to introduce this at another school I would probably change that title.
The articles are available in my TPT store. This was such an easy way to achieve my Smart goal. I received some very nice complements from my staff and administrators. It also made my presence in the building more obvious, helped to encourage language and learning beyond the school day and hopefully made parents more aware of what they could do to support their child’s development. I believe the articles were also a universal support that helped with general language development. Better Speech and hearing should be highlighted all year around not just in May.
Let me know what you think. I do have other articles to post so please check back often. If you have ideas for articles I would love to hear them.
The School Speech Therapist would like to welcome guest blogger Mirla G. Raz. I first became acquainted with Ms. Raz when I was asked to review her most recent publication Preschool Stuttering: What Parents Can Do. I was duly impressed with the book (you can read my review here). As it turned out I was already very familiar with Ms. Raz’s work since I had been using her books from her Help Me Talk Right series for years. The Help Me Talk Right Books continue to be a staple in my therapy room.
Ms. Raz has shared an excerpt taken from her newly developed course Stopping the Stuttering Trajectory in the Preschool Years available through Northern Speech Services. The course is designed to teach SLPs how they can help parents navigate the emotional and often confusing landscape of stuttering. Given that Ms. Raz’s book was so helpful to me, I believe her course will significantly add to your body of knowledge. Teresa
From Stopping the Stuttering Trajectory in the Preschool Years By Mirla G. Raz
Stuttering during the preschool years can be an easy problem to solve, one that may stop the child’s stutter before therapy is ever needed. We can do this by helping parents understand the disorder and advising them how best to communicate with their preschooler.
When parents hear their child stutter, their first inclination is often to intervene without professional input. They believe that what they do will help their child stop stuttering. They may not realize that their actions can be counterproductive. We can help parents by asking them to avoid specific interactions. We can help them by offering replacement interactions.
Below I have listed the interactions to be avoided:
- Speaking for the child.
- Finishing words or sentences for the child.
- Interrupting the child when he is speaking.
- Facial or body language that shows the child the parent is anxious or upset about the child’s speech.
- Asking the child to perform or recite in front of others.
- Talking about the child’s speech when others are present.
- Getting upset or distressed when the child stutters.
- Calling the child a “stutterer.”
- Limiting the amount of time the child has to speak or indicating that the parent is in a rush and does not have the time to listen.
- Bombarding the child with questions.
- Poking fun of the child’s speech or teasing him about it.
Parent can replace unhelpful interactions with the following:
- The parent should get down to eye level with the child and make eye contact.
- The parent should listen to what the child is saying.
- The parent should not interrupt the child or try to help him as he stutters.
- When the child is done talking the parent should comment on what the child has said, not how he has said it.
Mirla G. Raz has been working as an SLP for over 40 years. She is the author of the popular Help Me Talk Right books. Her most recent publication, Preschool Stuttering: What Parents Can Do is a comprehensive book designed to help parents understand stuttering during the preschool years. The book explains what happens when a child stutters, stuttering facts, the role of emotions and temperament in stuttering, the emotions and roles of the parents, what can cause the stutter to be better or worse, the impact of the child’s environment, when and where to seek professional help and more. The books are available through her website www.helpmetalkright.com and Amazon (see links below).
This article was originally published by Teresa Sadowski M.A., CCC-SLP on the now defunct Examiner web site in February 2012. Speech and Language Service Delivery, Be Proactive Parents was written to help parents advocate for appropriate and effective speech and language services for their child.
Once your child has been diagnosed with a language disorder or weakness, it’s important to be proactive about service delivery. Asking, “How often will my child be seen by the Speech Language Pathologist?” isn’t enough.
The service delivery process begins with the Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) making their recommendation at the team meeting based on testing, progress and your child’s specific needs. Unfortunately, recommendations may also be driven by the school’s schedule, the therapist’s caseload or the school’s philosophy. A typical recommendation might be 1-2 thirty minutes sessions a week using either the “pull out” or “push in” model.
In the “pull out” model, your child receives services in a separate small group**** or individual setting. They’ll receive specific instruction and practice in their area(s) of need. School schedules might not be conducive to this model. Sometimes it’s difficult to find half hour blocks where the student isn’t missing something important. Ask the team to explain the schedule to you. Ask when services will take place and what your child will be missing. Some schools have scheduled in a daily block of time that accommodates children who receive special services. During that block of time the other students are free reading, taking an extra elective or working on special projects. This not only helps with scheduling, it keeps the special need student from feeling singled out or from falling behind. If your school has not developed this block of time ask the administration to consider it.
Many schools are opting for the “push in” model which means the therapist goes into the classroom. If the “push in” model is recommended there’s a lot more to ask.
How many other students is the therapist servicing at the same time in the classroom? Any more than 3 or 4 students and you might begin to wonder if the therapist will have any significant contact with your child. How will the therapist address my child’s specific needs? If you are not satisfied with the response to this question, continue questioning using the proposed goals and objectives as a guide. How much consultation do the therapist and teacher have before and after the lesson? If consult time between SLP and teacher isn’t built in, “push in” will not be very effective. One of the main purposes of the “push in” model is to educate teachers on the language disability and how to implement classroom lesson plans that accommodate a student’s specific needs. Therapists may often recommend a combination of push in and pull out as an appropriate solution.
How big is the therapist’s caseload?. In some school systems SLPs are servicing 80+ students. Even a therapist with 30-40+ students is going to have little time to devote to your child. Trained Speech Therapy Assistants are frequently used in schools with large numbers. Just like therapists, some therapy assistants are good and some have limited skills. If a therapy assistant is involved in your child’s programming you need to ask three questions. How much experience does the therapy assistant have? Everyone has to start somewhere but if you have a child with specific and challenging language needs that require flexibility in programing, insist the SLP primarily works with your child. What kind of training does the therapy assistant have? Therapy assistants should either hold a certificate from an accredited program or have undergraduate degree in speech language pathology. How often does the assistant meet and consult with the SLP? In reality they should meet daily to discuss mutual caseloads, that doesn’t always happen. In some states the SLP must be in the building available to observe and supervise the assistant at all times. If you are uncomfortable with the response you receive to this question, ask to see the state regulations.
Most schools really do look out for the best interest of their students. And most therapists will answer programming questions with relative ease during the team meeting. However, it is easy for schools and therapists to become overwhelmed or find themselves struggling with limited resources. Develop a good working relationship with your child’s special educational team, check in with their service providers every so often and ask what you can do to help. In the end, your proactive actions will only benefit one person……..your child.
Back in mid-December I attended a one day workshop called “Yoga and Mindfulness in the Classroom: Tools to improve self-regulation, learning and classroom climate” Lisa Flynn, E-RYT, RCYT presented a program that she designed to help bring yoga and mindfulness into the classroom. Not only did she present the concrete parts of the program, Ms. Flynn also did a good job explaining how students could benefit both academically and behaviorally.
My motivation for attending was to learn a little bit about mindfulness and incorporate some quick and simple techniques into my therapy sessions. I was actually planning for that to be my smart goal for the year. The initial sequence presented focused on activities that could easily fall under the SLPs scope of practice. One listening activity focused on auditory attention, some breathing and head/neck movements could fall under oral motor, movements that pair up with others could fall under social and another activity focusing on relaxation/imagination is basically visual imagery. I’m sure I could find many more examples.
Ms. Flynn has modified many of the basic yoga positions to be “school friendly.” This means nothing too challenging, minimal space requirements and no touching the floor. Even more impressive is that she has put together a variety of sequences to choose from depending on needs. Ms. Flynn was also very mindful of the time constraints schools face, creating sequences that vary from 1-2 minutes to 20 minutes. Her suggested sequences include
- Morning meeting
- Take a Break
- Pre-Writing and Writing Break
- Pre-Test and Test Break
- Mood/Energy Shift
- Close of Day
Several of these 1-2 minute sequences would be perfect for speech/language therapy sessions.
Yoga and Mindfulness in the Classroom was hosted by PESI. It really was a good bang for the buck. Not only was Ms. Flynn very knowledgeable but she also shared an awful lot of information and the take homes were very complete. If you wanted to implement her techniques on a larger scale there were materials available to purchase. Ms. Flynn has created sets of cards to guide, explain and demonstrate the aspects of her program and I must say they were quite good.
If it would up to me, I spend some consult dollars on this program to have Ms. Flynn train the teachers and develop a program that would fit my schools needs. I see this approach as proactive and being able to help in so many ways. I could also envision physical education teachers taking the lead on this to help incorporate this into daily practice. This is a program all kids could benefit from. This could be considered a universal support in schools and foster skill development in so many areas.
This was honestly one of the most enjoyable workshops I’ve been to in a long time. I do have to wonder if it was enjoyable because we got to get up and move around. If movement and breathing made the workshop more enjoyable that just proves it works. I’m looking forward to incorporating many of these techniques into my therapy sessions.
Read more about Lisa Flynn’s Yoga 4 Classrooms program on her web site
I recently came across a set of online flash cards, focusing on the language development needs of younger children. These articulation/vocabulary/phonemic awareness cards are designed Kimberly Marino M.A. CCC-SLP, and are truly worth a shout out. Ms. Marino has used her expertise as a speech language pathologist to choose early acquired high frequency words focusing on the early developing sounds of /m/, /h/, /p/, /w/, /b/, /n/ and then pairing those words with clear photographs. I particularly like the photographs, with the white background the photograph pops.
Any Speech Language Pathologist will look at these cards and see their immediate value as a therapy tool or something to give to parents for practice at home. I would have loved to have a set of these when I was working in EI or with more involved preschoolers. These cards may look simple but are tailored to the developmental needs of young children.
My First Sounds and Words cards can be purchased on Esty for $10. There are several printing options to created different sizes. There is also a My First Sounds and Words set 2 focusing on the next level of sound development T, D, K, and G.
Kimberly Marino M.A. CCC-SLP is also the author of Speech Mama Blog, Empowering parents with the tools they need to help their little one or big one become a better communicator. Follow her at thespeechmama.com
I came across this blog post written a few years back “I teach Kindergarten and I don’t like Teachers Pay Teachers” by Matt Gomez kindergarten teacher. The comments posted by others have taken off. I wanted to simply comment but I knew my comment would be very verbose so I figured I could turn it into a blog post (and have another reason to mention my material on TPT). Keep in mind that my view of TPT as a Speech Language Pathologist is going to be a little different. Also Mr. Gomez isn’t the only one who doesn’t like to use TPT….lots of similar blog posts out there. [Just noted a follow up blog post by Mr. Gomez, “Teachers Pay Teachers-the Sequal” again tons of comments. I wish I had his following!]
Reading the article I can clearly understand Mr. Gomez’ point of view.
#1 Of course teachers are trying to sell things that work in their classroom. Teachers and therapists have been doing this for years. It was just a lot harder to do and they did it through the larger publishing companies. You have to look at TPT as a self publishing company. Over the course of 30 years I have purchased (at great expense) lots of books and materials from educational publishing companies that never went through trials, had data collected, was tested out or demonstrated. At least with TPT if I buy something that doesn’t work, I’ve only lost a few dollars (well maybe a more than a few with ink/paper costs). I agree that the PDF format makes it difficult to customize to totally meet the needs of a class but I’ve experienced that with lots of materials over the years. This is where your creativity should come in. Still working with materials in a PDF format is still easier to modify (the activity not the materials) than, the computer program that basically gives the kids the answers if they can figure out where to click or any of a number of applications that tout to be educational. I guess my point is there are limitations with all materials. I look for materials and Apps that fit the specific needs of my students and never buy anything just because it is cute or fun. I thoroughly look through the materials to see if it even comes close to fitting my needs. I also continue to use some materials that are over 20 years old. Why….because they are the best at targeting the specific skill I’m working on. As an SLP I can get away with old and tattered.
#2 TPT my be fostering the “laminating culture” but they didn’t create it. We’ve been laminating for years. Common Core is making teachers turn to sites like TPT for help. Schools with good curriculums have had to throw out those curriculums and materials. Most don’t have the funds or even the understanding to supply common core and teachers are trying to do the best they can. Many are worried about losing their jobs if common core isn’t followed or if their students don’t score well on a test. If the people who commented on Mr. Gomez’ site put their efforts into advocating for education instead of being miffed over comments about TPT imagine what could happen.
#3 I did cute when I was younger. My personality has changed, my workload has grown and for me there just isn’t time for cute. Even some of the school wide cutesy stuff bothers me (why do we need pajama day?). I haven’t given away a sticker in years. Kids do like to have fun and I try to foster that through hands on activities, laughing, joking and conversation, all while staying focused on my goals/student needs. I totally agree with Matt that real images and hands on materials are much more valuable than cutesy images that are basically charactitures of themselves. Learning while experiencing “real” things/situations/theories/ideas always works out better.
#4 I would be hesitant to use any item from TPT for anything more than a supplementary activity to practice skills being taught. To use a created “program” listed on TPT, the data isn’t gong to be there to support
#5 Other than tutoring (usually for a lot less than teacher pay), most teachers have few other ways to supplement their income. SLPs often give discounts for private services when insurance cannot be accessed. Even then insurance and especially medicaid/medicare, often doesn’t even come close to an expected hourly rate for speech therapy. Why shouldn’t individuals try and market their ideas. TPT just makes it easy. Speech Language Pathologists create or customize just about every bit of material they use to fit the needs of specific students. If I’ve created something that works well for me, maybe it will work for others. You never know where that one great idea is going to come from.
#6 Sharing ideas and material is wonderful. There is just no reason to reinvent the wheel every time a new subject, theory, curriculum or flavor of the day pops up. TPT is a time saver and I imagine sometimes a life saver. If you’re not a graphics wiz it’s the place to go.
Basically I like TPT and I like what it does to create business opportunities for educators. I have a few items on TPT, primarily articles suitable for a school newsletter and one killer packet of workshop materials for paraprofessionals on Speech and Language development. I doubt I’ve made 100 bucks in the three years I’ve been with TPT. I’ve purchased about 35 items on TPT and use about 10 consistently. That’s probably a higher percentage than with my purchase and used of very expensive traditional materials.
My advice…..if you’re going to use TPT
Don’t impulse buy
Use TPT products to supplement an activity or reinforce a skill not as a total lesson.
Look through the material, make sure it is something that comes very close to fitting your students specific needs.
Will your students like it?
Can you use it in different ways and with different levels?
Consider the overall cost. Educators are not business people and often don’t factor in paper, ink, wear/tear on your printer and your time
Make sure it is a time saver for you
Always check out the free downloads but don’t print unless you really like it (again time and money)
Don’t pay too much
Check out my TPT store , especially if you’re an SLP looking for articles to put in your school newsletter (a fantastic professional goal by the way) (ok I had to throw that in)
Something about the end of the school year just sucks all my energy and creative juices. After some R & R, I’m ready to get back to work. Now I just need some ideas. Anyone have some interesting and possibly controversial topics for me to tackle?
One thing I have been doing during my down time is continuing to market my book, The School Speech Language Pathologist is an Administrator’s Guide to understanding the role of the SLP in schools along with strategies to aid staffing, workload management and student success. Most of my marketing takes place via twitter or Facebook. I sell a few copies here and there. Even in the field of speech language pathology my book is a niche book. I would love to sit at a booth during any conference and share/sell my book but the overall cost for something like that can be thousands. It is rather difficult to justify the cost when you literally make only a couple of dollars per copy anyway. Specific educational web sites won’t carry your book unless you self published through them. I imagine there are a few SLPs out there that might be in the same boat. My thought was that I could offer to split a table with several SLP authors at conferences. Anyone interested? Again, not sure with travel it would be profitable. I would probably have to find 10+ SLP/education authors to make this a go.
TPT is another resource I both contribute to and use. My products consists primarily of articles appropriate for school newsletters. (You can check out my TPT store here) I also have one product that focuses on inservice training for teaching assistants. As one of our smart goals the SLPs in my district put together some inservice training for teaching assistants on what SLPs do, the nature of students with SL difficulties and how assistants can support SL students in the classroom. I wish there was a speech and language branch of the TPT store. I feel that many of the SLP produced products get lost in the shuffle.
My principal has asked me to put together some more articles appropriate for school newsletters. While I have topics in mind again I would love ideas/suggestions.
Basically, I need some help getting my creative flow going. Has any pressing issue come to the forefront in your school setting? I’d love to hear about any unique situations positive or negative that have come up over the past year. I’m also sitting here waiting to see if ASHA will accept my presentation proposal. Since this was the first time I put a proposal together I am hopeful but realistic about getting accepted. If I do get and invitation to present I will just have to force that creative flow. That I will keep you updated on. Now how to work on all of this and still enjoy my summer?
One year ago this month I published my first book The School Speech Language Pathologist, An Administrator’s Guide to understanding the role of the SLP in schools along with strategies to aid staffing, workload management and student success. I don’t have to explain to SLPs why I was compelled to write this book. It evolved first in my head, then as a powerpoint and then as a small book. Tired of feeling overwhelmed and disrespected, I pushed the completion of the book into high gear after winning a self publishing contract through my publisher Booklocker (which I highly recommend as a self publisher).
Publishing this book was a milestone in my life. To celebrate that and to thank my many followers, I want to give away 5 copies to active followers of my blog, The School Speech Therapist. To become an active follower, sign up through the feedburner link on the right. You will receive an email to activate your subscription. Winners will be chosen at random on April 30th 2016.
My book sales have been slow but steady. I’ve been pleased with the feedback I’ve received from other SLPs. I’m still working on getting it into the hands of those who need it such as school administrators. I’ll take any suggestions on how to do that. We all need to do a better job advocating for ourselves, our skills and our students. There is too much wrong with the way most of us service students in schools, primarily around workload. We have become blurred with teachers and most administrators don’t believe we have a lot to contribute. I’m rarely consulted on practices, policies or even student decisions beyond showing up to IEP meetings where they legally have to have us there. This book is just a start and I hope someone with more energy and better connections will expand the fight (yes unfortunately it is a fight at this point).
Thank you to everyone who follows The School Speech Therapist and my companion Facebook page. If you can’t wait to buy my book it is available through Amazon (see link below), Barnes and Nobel and through my publisher Booklocker.
March 2nd is The National Education Association’s Read Across America Day. Read more about it on the NEA website . Does your school do anything special for the Event. My school usually does a little something to rah rah reading. While this is a very important event, don’t forget to encourage your students or your children to read all the time. Reading is a great way to develop language, vocabulary and background knowledge.
Lots of cute t-shirts out there to celebrate the day and of course the required Dr. Suess hat
Several years back the powers that be came up with RTI or Response to Intervention. Seriously what a semantically flawed title. RTI was interpreted and implemented differently in every school system based on the administration’s perspective. At first I disliked RTI, I felt it was a program that delayed needed services. RTI also suggested that accommodations could be a cure all for students who struggled.
Then for a while, I thought RTI was really working and it did for some kids. It was very dependent on the understanding/knowledge of the RTI team and willingness to put effort into the process. Teachers were beginning recognize weaknesses/issues and bring up names of at risk students sooner. However, looking back I think the names were brought up because teachers were more concerned that the student in question would not do well on state wide testing without accommodations. (It’s amazing how those students got fast tracked.)
There has to be some sort of a referral process but I’m still not convenience RTI is an effective model. RTI is set up to be a regular education service. Who makes up the RTI team will determine the quality of the accommodations presented. I’m just not convinced that those without a special education background can identify the possible weaknesses and make the proper suggestions for accommodations. Some school systems include a School Psychologist as part of their RTI team which is a big plus moving the process along in a more efficient manner, perhaps even skipping right into formalized evaluation.
Basically what comes out of Tier I and Tier II RTI levels are a lot of accommodations, many suggestions and a few observations. The teacher is instructed to put the generated accommodations in place to see if that works first. This makes perfect sense with some students but not all. With more involved students it’s 12 weeks or more wasted collecting data on accommodations. In many cases accommodations that a special educator, SLP or School Psychologist could tell you are not going to target the student’s specific underlying needs. Developmentally, 3 months is a very long time for a struggling student.
What is happening to the student during this long period of time without specialized instruction? Gaps in learning are going to emerge making it even harder for a student to catch up, school is going to get more difficult and confidence will flounder. Only those educators with a strong special education background are going to understand the underlying consequences.
Now look at IEPs, we actually have a section for accommodations in the document. Yes, most students will benefit from some accommodations. Some disabilities must have accommodations. However, since the advent of RTI and state wide testing the list of accommodations written into an IEP has grown significantly. Do accommodations without instruction, models and guidance really work? When it comes to accommodations, (written in RTI, 504s or IEPs) that is only one of many questions to be asked.
- Are we giving a false impression to parents and teachers that accommodations are going to cure the problem?
- Are students passing both classroom tests and state wide exams only because they are given every accommodation in the book?
- Do we provide so many accommodations without needed instructions that students have a false sense of their own capabilities and success?
- Are we teaching kids to expect the world to accommodate them in all situations? (Imagine the implications with college and work situations)
- Are we keeping kids from understanding their issues and disabilities, not holding them responsible for their behavior and learning?
- What is wrong with the system if we have to provide accommodations for so many students?
- Are individual accommodations needed because the need for universal supports and expectations has been ignored?
- Why would a special education national screening program be set up in a way that those suggesting accommodations do not have the educational background to understand learning disabilities and weaknesses?
- How can accommodations work when the underlying issues have not been formally identified or recognized by specially trained staff?
Every time I sit down to write accommodations for my speech and language students I focus on if the accommodation is needed, will it be effective, can it actually be implemented on a regular basis, will teachers/parents understand what an accommodation will achieve and will the accommodations keep the student from achieving higher expectations. I know one of the reasons I write so many accommodations, in an IEP, is to try to impress upon teachers (and those working with language disabled children) that language disabilities affect all aspects of learning. I also have the advantage of working on the underlying language needs and to help the student develop their own understanding and strategies for success.
Increased reliance on accommodations less specialized instruction is just a trend I have observed since the implementation of RTI and state mandated testing. Has your experience been the same?