Friday, May 17, 2013

Reading To Your Kids #2: Try Avoiding the Text

Sometimes it's fun to deviate a little bit from the exact printed words on the page and tell a story your own way.  It's good for a child to hear the same story told in different ways.  They learn the skill of re-telling which is crucial for academic and social success.  Besides, when you read the same book OVER and OVER and OVER again, we parents sometimes require a little change of pace.  It's essential to our sanity!  My son is a little obsessed with Berenstain Bears books right now.  They are fun and they teach great morals - but sheesh - sometimes they seem way too long!  So sometimes I shorten it up.  I'm modeling how to summarize stories for him - so it's a win-win!

Did you know there is research that shows that wordless picture books help readers "understand the elements of story structure, develop visual literacy, think and write creatively, and cultivate language and narrative abilities"? (Masters Program in Library and Information Sciences).  This <----- about="" articles="" books.="" great="" has="" link="" other="" p="" picture="" related="" research="" some="" to="" wordless="">
There are lots of great wordless picture books out there.  My friend Lynn did a post about some of them last month.  Check it out here.

One of my favorite books isn't technically wordless per se, but it has very limited words and the pictures are so much fun!  It can create so much great discussion!  The book is Good Night Gorilla and it's a favorite among all the kids I work with.  It'll probably come up again in this series when we talk about inferencing.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Reading To Your Kids #1: Take Your Time

I have promised a few friends and a few parents that I would do this series and I think it's time!  Summer Break is approaching and that's a great time to establish a reading routine with your kids.  I'll just be posting a new concept each time and I don't know exactly how many posts I will end up doing....we shall see!  My first tip is a short and simple one, but a very powerful one at the same time.

Reading Tip #1: Take Your Time
We all have nights where we are home late from a baseball game or something, we just want the kids to go to bed so we read a quick book and get it over with.  That's OK!  But hopefully most of the time you are able to sit down, relax, and let your child take the lead.  Let them turn the pages, ask questions, talk about the pictures, etc.  There's no need to rush to get through it.  Many children need a long time to absorb what was just read and apply it to the pictures on the page.  Especially if it's a first-time read-through.  You might find that after you read the text and give your child a few minutes to let it sink in, they suddenly start asking questions.  Those are the times when you can catch a glimpse into your child's amazing mind.  Let me know how it goes!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Why Should I Spend the Money on Private Practice?

As a parent of a child with a speech or language delay, you probably have a lot of questions about what to do and where to go to receive help.  Here are some reasons why the parents who come to Speaking of Kids are especially pleased with their choice of private practice.
1.  The child is getting one-on-one attention once or twice a week.
Many times, especially for younger children, a school district will qualify a child for services, but only for 30 or 60 minutes a month.  In other cases, they are unable to serve a child because their needs aren't severe enough to meet their criteria.  Still, in other cases, the child is getting services 30 minutes a week, but they are being seen in a group of 3 or even more students, so the time spent in the SLP's room is not always super effective.  Please know, I'm not in any way trying to bash schools.  They have to set guidelines and procedures to help them accommodate such a wide variety of needs. Many speech therapists have anywhere from 70-100 kids on their caseload!!!  And I know MANY great things are done in schools to help students.  There are many amazing SLP's out there who make such a huge difference in the lives of the kids they serve. Frankly, I don't know how they do it sometimes!  But for the reasons listed above, some parents think private practice is an excellent supplement or replacement to the services in the school setting.  I always say - more is usually better!  And I am happy to collaborate with the student's speech therapist from the school so we can work on the same goals together.
2. They are "in the know". 
One of the main reasons why I have tried to hard to serve children in a private practice setting is because of my strong belief that parents need to be empowered and educated.  In a school setting it is much more difficult - almost impossible - to keep parents fully informed of their child's status and progress.  I love taking time to sit down with parents and explain their child's strengths and weaknesses, and brainstorm together ways we can help the child improve.
3.  They receive materials and support to continue the child's learning at home.
This goes along with number two, but in addition to receiving added information, I try to give parents ideas, materials, and resources so that they can continue helping their child fortify the skills they learn each week.  30 minutes/week isn't going to help a child progress as quickly as if a child also practices those skills at home with a parent who is confident enough to encourage and reinforce the progress.
4.  The child maintains progress because there are no breaks.
For some students, this isn't an issue.  But for many students out there, Christmas break, Spring break, and especially Summer break are times when a child completely forgets much of what they have learned and have to back up significantly to regain that previously-known knowledge.  In private practice, we don't take breaks.  Many parents find that private practice during the Summer only is a great addition to the services the child will receive in the school when it starts back up again.
5.  Parents are highly involved.
Depending on the child's needs and the family situation, I try to encourage the parents to be involved in the therapy, or at least to sit back and observe.  I often hand out notebooks to the parents so they can write down what we worked on that day, what strategies I give them on how to incorporate concepts at home, websites or other resources they can go to, or any questions they might have.  Then at the end of the session, I review what we did, how the child did, and answer any other questions they might have.

So there are some of the reasons why many parents find private speech therapy to be an excellent option for their children.  If you know anybody thinking about this possibility, please feel free to share this link!  If you live in northern Utah and would like to contact me about speech therapy, please see my personal website at