After working with my clients (and the students I worked with in the school setting), I always assign and go over homework to reinforce the skill(s) we addressed in the session.
Now that I have my own business and travel to a client’s home, I am able to connect with the parents easier and discuss each session. Developing a good relationship with the child’s parents is key in the child’s success.
After each session, I start off by explaining to the parents what their child and I did and any terms/ techniques that I determined were effective in eliciting correct responses. When working on articulation skills, I “teach” the parent the ability to discriminate between correct and incorrect productions and terms that I have found were successful at improving the child’s accuracy. At the end, I review the homework and ways to incorporate them into their busy lives. Mirrors are great when working on speech sounds, since they can provide immediate, visual cues. Many times, the child is present for this discussion and is able to provide important information and give examples to their parent.
What does speech-language homework look like? I give each of my clients a notebook to store the weekly homework I give. The parents report that they, along with their child, really like having the organized notebook. I explain to parents and children that practicing speech-language homework doesn’t always have to be sitting down at a table with their notebook in front of them (although that does need to occur). Practice can take place while watching TV, sitting in the car on the way to school, or walking through the grocery store aisles-just practicing correct tongue placement for specific sounds or playing around with different mouth positions can often elicit correct sounds and the ability to understand and discriminate sounds.
Why do I “teach” parents the ability to discriminate between correct and incorrect productions, along with any terms I used during the session? Usually the parents are the ones who work with their child on their homework and they need to be able to reinforce the correct skill between therapy sessions. Siblings can help their brother/sister practice too, but also need to be trained on the proper way to assist. Practicing homework, but doing it incorrectly provides no benefit. Consistent homework practice and correct reinforcement can decrease the length of time a child requires Speech-Language Therapy.