Leaves falling outside, Christmas music playing faintly in the background, and me… sitting at the laptop thinking of how to discuss regression and just how to avoid it when all I want to do is welcome the break. That is what happens isn’t it? Don’t we all count down the days until the break? I can remember my first year as Speech-Language Pathologist in the schools, the teachers had a large calendar taped to the inside of the faculty bathroom door, marking off the days just like we did as kids. We are just as guilty as they are for wanting time off and away from the daily grind of school. It’s been eons since those first years, and now, more often than not I worry about how to keep my students from losing all that they gained over the holiday break.
How do we prevent loss or regression? The answer to this question has evolved for me over the years. Now having my own children, I understand the need for a break. The holidays are a time to relax, recharge, and spend time with those we love. We also need to hold on to those skills we have worked so hard to achieve so far during the school year. My advice to my parents and other SLPs, typically very simple, usually demonstrates results. I share these simple thoughts:
- READ to your child! I cannot emphasize this enough. It does not matter what you read… stories, magazine articles, a recipe, signs you pass while traveling, literally whatever! Just READ! Then make sure to ask questions, the big WH questions, who or what is it about, where did it happen, what do you think will happen next? Reading continues to expose your child to vocabulary and comprehension in a very natural way and will hopefully trigger teachable moments that don’t feel like learning!
- Pick only one or two goals and make sure to maintain a routine. I know it’s Christmas and that is easier said than done, but limit TV time and exposure to technology. Structure is necessary for most kids. Continue to make time to focus on the goals and skills that are emerging. The consistency is huge for school age students and it will continue to build their confidence if they are able to return to school without missing a beat! Ask your SLP or teacher what is most important for your child to maintain, they will be happy to share what they think!
- Make your child responsible for his or her learning. Set up a reward chart or stickers on a calendar for each time they work on a specific goal or skill. This will help motivate them to not only work on their goal but to have an incentive that is recognized. Share this with your teacher or Speech-Language Pathologist when you return from school as a motivator!
By the time the holiday comes around we all need a “break” and it is hard for us to want to continue to push through, but that pushing during the holidays can make all the difference when trying to prevent loss of skills!
Author: Natasha Peacock, MCD, CCC-SLP