Wishing Wells in Speech Therapy Help to Build Rapport

Wishing Wells in Speech Therapy Help to Build Rapport

Anytime I walk by a large body of water, I get the sudden urge to make a wish and toss a penny into it. Don’t you? I believe that wishes are something extremely special and I think that we all could benefit from making a few more wishes throughout our day.

Hey. You never know. That wish just might come true, right?!

Ever since my students and I did our water and food coloring activity a few weeks back, they keep on asking me when we were going to have another water activity. They liked it that much! One student even mentioned to me that he WISHED we could play with water again in speech. Well, that’s when it hit me. He wished we could play with water again, so why don’t I think up another water activity to make HIS WISH come true?

How about a wishing well?

Yes! That’s it! A wishing well! Over the past week, I saved up a bunch of spare change. I knew I needed lots of pennies because my idea was to create a speech therapy wishing well for all of my students. So with that in mind, I went over to my local dollar store and purchased a plastic container about the size of a shoe box. I figured that I could easily fill that up with water, and together, we could throw pennies into it while we verbalized our wishes.

The rules of our wishing well were easy.

Once I showed my students the container filled with water and the handful of pennies, they were pumped. They simply couldn’t wait to get their hands on the coins to start tossing. I told them that there were some rules that they needed to follow so that we could ensure that we got to practice as many of our articulation words as possible. Each student had their own word list that was specific to the sound they were working on. Each round consisted of 5 throws and 5 wishes. 4 of the 5 wishes had to contain words from their word list, but the last wish did not have to.

Let the wishing begin!

I put the small container on the floor, almost right up against the wall. I figured that the wall could act as a type of backboard just in case a student over threw the penny. Once we were all lined up, I started to hear some of the best responses ever! A student working on his /R/ sound wished he could have a talking red rabbit who was wearing a really cute raincoat and another working on his /L/ sound wished for a day where he could go on a lion ride with Lebron James (sounds fun!).

All of those articulation wishes were fantastic, but in all honesty, the wishes where the students weren’t forced to focus on their specific target sound were always the best because those truly came from the heart. They were always thought-provoking and nothing short of magical. I learned 2 valuable lessons from those wishes that I wanted to share with you.

Lesson 1: Hearing those wishes helped me to continue to build rapport.

Building and maintaining a strong therapeutic relationship between clients and clinicians is crucial. When we make valid attempts to connect with our clients on a personal level, we create and foster an alliance that aids in our ability to provide more effective treatment. I believe that genuinely listening to the wishes of my little ones gave me the opportunity to get to know them even better than I already do, and ultimately, that helps the overall therapy experience.

From this activity, I was able to learn that one of my students was super excited because his grandmother, from California, was coming to visit him in a few days. He said, “I wish it was Friday already because that is when I get to see my grandma.” Now that I know about how she is coming to visit, I’m going to make sure to ask him about his grandmother, the next time I see him. Asking kind questions like that helps build rapport. It shows him that I care about him and his family.

Lesson 2: Hearing those wishes helped me to plan cooler upcoming activities.

It’s one thing for us, as clinicians, to throw together a generic speech therapy activity, but it’s another thing if the activity that we create is super personalized. It only makes sense that the more personalized an activity is, the more likely the client will stay motivated and focused. The more individualized, the better.

For example, through this wishing well activity, I was able to learn that one of my students wished that she knew how to breakdance. Because I now know that she is interested in breakdancing, I can easily go online to find some YouTube videos and/or articles that highlight breakdancing. Heck, maybe we could even attempt to breakdance together in the hallway during speech?! She is working on WH questions, so I can easily put together some questions that relate to her goals and objectives, and they can also easily relate to breakdancing, too! Creating this personalized activity helps with rapport building because it shows her that I’m listening to what she says and I’m also taking a mutual interest in something she likes.

In closing . . .

Though this wishing well activity can get a bit messy from the splish slash of pennies crashing into water, the benefits far outweigh the wetness (just make sure you don’t get your iPad or iPhone wet, haha!). You need to give this wishing well activity a try. When a clinician makes a conscious decision to build rapport with a client during a therapeutic interaction, the outcome often results in a mutual respect for one another that is characterized by laughter, trust, and meaningful conversations. Talking about wishes does just that. It triggers oodles and oodles of laughter, solidifies trust and friendship, and causes a tidal wave of meaningful and worthwhile conversation. So go on and give it a shot (and as always, please let me know how it goes.).

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