It’s a cliche saying, but it’s one that’s absolutely true: Practice. Makes. Perfect! Over the last few months, I’ve been putting a lot of thought into how I can better encourage my speech therapy students to actually practice their speech at home. The reason why is because (and you know this) the more a student practices at home, the faster he will meet those goals and objectives. And the more she practices at home, the stronger her communication abilities will get. So, how can I help them to better understand this?
Practice makes perfect.
Trust me, I’ve told students on my caseload “practice makes perfect” over and over again. I’ve even contemplated getting that sentence tattooed on my forehead because I’ve said it that often. Well, the tattoo thing might be pushing it, but you know what I mean, right? I say it and I say it, and yet, an overwhelming majority of my students don’t feel the need to practice at home. Why?
My friend Jen to the rescue!
I have a good buddy named Jen Ernst (Hi Jen!). She is a fantastic SLP and this past summer she and I were chatting about my little dilemma. Then, like the SLP superstar that she is, she threw some amazing advice my way that seriously blew my mind. She told me to think basketball.
“Here’s a basketball analogy you might like.” She said to me.
“I say this, or a variation of it, to a number of my students. Think about playing basketball. Now, think about one part of playing basketball: dribbling. How awesome of a dribbler would you become if you went to the gym and practiced twice a week for 30 minutes? You probably would get a little bit better, but you wouldn’t be the all-star on the court. What would you need to do to be the best player you could be? Practice every single day, even if your team didn’t work out that day. You could dribble out on the sidewalk, in your garage, or at the park. The more you practiced, the more amazing your dribbling would become. After a while, you would be dazzling everyone with your expert dribbling skills.”
Jen went on with, “Well, the same thing works for speech. If you just practice your speech twice a week for 30 minutes with me, it’s only getting to get a little bit better. But, if you practice every single day, in lots of different places, you’re going to develop expert speech skills and dazzle everyone when you talk to them.”
That analogy stuck with me. I loved it!
Well, I finally used her basketball analogy last month with a private articulation client I’ve been working together with and it really resonated with this particular 4th grader. You know how sometimes you can just SEE that light switch go on in a child’s mind? That’s what I saw and I loved it! And after I told him Jen’s basketball analogy, I showed him THIS AMAZING BASKETBALL TRICKS VIDEO on YouTube to further drive the point home. The basketball analogy paired with the basketball video – it was the perfect combination. He was sold. He was all in. I just KNEW IT!
Practice makes perfect.
It’s been almost a month and let me tell you, my private client’s articulation is improving at a very fast rate. Mom has even told me that she caught him looking at the mirror in his room and practicing some of my tips and tricks ON HIS OWN. He is practicing. He motivated. He believes that practice makes perfect.
It doesn’t have to be a basketball analogy.
Basketball might not be your student’s thing. That’s fine. Use Jen’s basketball analogy as a template, but plug in whatever works best with what your student is a fan of. Here are 4 that you might consider:
- Is your student a fan of the culinary arts? If so, you could compare speech practice to cooking. The best chefs and bakers didn’t get that way overnight. Their first time in the kitchen was sloppy, but with practice, they were able to perfect their culinary creations. Yum!
- Is your student a fan of the painting? If so, you could compare speech practice to painting works of art. The best artists didn’t get that way overnight. Their first time in front of a blank canvas was sloppy, but with practice, they were able to perfect their painting. Yes!
- Is your student a fan of music? If so, you could compare speech practice to being in a band. The best musicians didn’t get that way overnight. Their first time on a stage was sloppy, but with practice, they were able to perfect their tunes. Rock on!
- Is your student a fan of video games? If so, you could compare the speech practice to video game programming. The best video game creators didn’t get that way overnight. Their first time in front of a computer was sloppy, but with practice, they were able to perfect their programming skills. Hooray!
In closing . . .
Between Jen’s basketball analogy and the other 4 analogies I came up with, I think you have more than enough ideas to try with all of your students. Give them a go and keep me posted. And ya never know, one of these gems just might be THE THING take helps your student to see just how powerful practice is. Practice makes perfect.