Let me paint you a picture that illustrates how I used to typically start off my speech therapy sessions as a school-based clinician. It looked something like this: I checked the schedule to see which group was next. Once I knew which lucky little kiddos I needed to get, I would leave my speech therapy room to go pick them up. Once I had everyone, we would walk down the hallway together, en route back to my speech therapy room. We would enter the room and THEN we would begin our session.
Notice how I emphasized the word THEN?
In the past, I pretty much wouldn’t start speech therapy until we all were in the speech therapy room. No speech therapy UNTIL we entered the magical speech therapy room. It’s as if I thought that it wasn’t possible for us to work on our goals and objectives UNTIL we were sitting at the speech therapy table.
What missed opportunities!
My transition to and from the speech therapy room is usually something along the lines of 2-3 minutes. So in theory, because of the walking that my students and I do, we lose about 5 minutes of speech therapy time. In my opinion, that’s a bunch of missed opportunities where we could’ve practiced aspects of effective communication that related to our goals and objectives. So now I make it a point to start speech speech therapy the moment I see my students. ASAP!
There’s no time like the preset!
I’ve changed my routine around so that we begin working on our goals and objectives WHILE we are actually walking down the hallway WAY WAY BEFORE we even enter my speech therapy room. For example, let’s say you have a student and he’s working on perfecting the /CH/ sound. You could easily take that opportunity to say, “Hey, let’s look around the walls while we walk to see if we can find any pictures that have the /CH/ sound in it.” You might discover a poster next to the lunchroom of a boy CHEWING on food. Or a piece of student artwork of a mouse CHOMPING on some CHEESE. Ya see? There’s just so many /CH/ words that begin to show themselves to us, outside the speech therapy room, once we actively start to keep our eyes peeled for them. What a BEAUTIFUL thing!
Why should we do this OUTSIDE of the speech therapy room?
In short, it’s because we need our young learners to be able to successfully use their newly learned skills in many different locations, not just in the speech therapy room. Encouraging your students to practice their sounds while walking to and from the speech therapy room reinforces the given sounds in a new location and further helps to move the students along towards mastery.
And it’s not just for articulation!
Walking and talking is also ideal for WH questions. It’s never been easier to target aspects of WH questions by being intentional with your questions. For example, let’s say you have a student and he’s working on better understanding WH questions. You could easily take that opportunity to say, “Hey, do you see that trophy case over there? What do you think those trophies are for? Why do you think teams are given trophies? When do teams usually get trophies?” So on and so forth. The possibilities are endless once you make a conscious decision to incorporate WH questions within the students’ surroundings outside of the speech therapy room.
In closing . . .
Purposeful walking and talking with your students is where it’s at. For real. It’s educationally relevant and it also gets the students ready for the main lesson that is usually waiting for them once they enter the the speech therapy room. Nah mean? So, do you think you could benefit from this type of routine? Do you have some other ideas that relate to this one? As always, please let me know. I just LOVE hearing from each and every single one of you.