School is back in session and now that the novelty of the first few days or weeks has worn thin, how do successful speech pathologists engage their young students and keep them involved in their ongoing progress throughout the year?

The secret is in making therapy fun. Whether your goal is language intervention and improvement, oral motor therapy, pragmatics, the mastering of clear sounds or speech, literacy, or overcoming stuttering or swallowing difficulties, you have one common objective: Grab – and hold onto – your students’ attention and interest. Only then can you realize the “aha!” moments when therapy pays off and true, lifelong learning occurs.

So, remember, it can be fun.

Fun = Learning
In order to make therapy truly effective, you need to keep students interested in what they’re doing. Depending on their age and/or individual preferences, the best tools may range from Play Doh and building blocks to video games and smartphone apps. But the common denominator is finding whatever it is that keeps kids engaged. This way, you not only achieve their learning and developmental goals, but you also create an enjoyable, nurturing environment.

Tips for Getting – and Keeping – Their Interest
Kids are … kids. Their energy is boundless, their attention wanders like a GPS on overdrive, and they tend to act up when tired, upset, bored or frustrated. (Okay, so adults can be the same way. But I digress.) So, how do you keep their attention focused on the therapy session at hand? Here are some tips:

  • Inject some energy. Use movement, sound and near-constant stimulation and game changes to keep a sense of interest in your therapy session. Of course, you don’t want to go into overdrive, but avoid continual lecturing, workbook exercises or otherwise ho-hum techniques.
  • Make it interactive. Constantly ask questions, including rhetorical and leading ones. Start a question and let your students finish it. Demonstrate or show them something, then ask “Why did I do that?” rather than explaining it yourself.
  • Get up close and personal. Bring your students close when you’re modelling. This could mean sitting in a knee-to-knee circle for a group of preschoolers or having young adults huddle their desks together or move to a common table.
  • Involve students in answering questions. If one child has a question, pass it off to another student who you think may know the answer, instead of automatically responding yourself. Learning from their peers can be very powerful for students; at any age, one’s counterparts are the most credible sources.
  • Break the rules – and point. Pointing at your students instead of calling their names may seem rude, but if all you ever do is call names, they don’t have to pay attention till they hear theirs. But, if you constantly move around the room, point, and mix it up by going back to those you’ve already called on, students will stay focused and alert.

For additional tips on how to make your therapy sessions shine and further develop your skills and career plans, contact the experts at Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services. And here’s to a great school year ahead!

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