Introducing: Alexandra Streeter, MA, CCC-SLP
Do You Drill or Use Themes?
I was interested to read some of the comments in Stephanie Bruno Dowling's preschool/early intervention blog the other day. She talked about using art activities for language in preschool, and there was a comment by an SLP who suggested that it is the younger SLP's who do more thematic therapy, and the more seasoned therapists end up sticking to targeting skills in a very direct way.
I have planned my therapy both (or several) ways. I have loved the idea of using themes for my therapy. In fact a couple of years ago, I was very proud of a "pirate" theme complete with pirate vocabulary, pirate articulation, pirate games (purchased on e-bay for the occasion) and even an pirate party for all my speech kids (attended by the principal dressed in pirate attire!) The following year saw a downturn in the economy, and I was less willing to use my own money for thematic games, thematic snack activities, and thematic art projects. There was also a HUGE increase in paperwork, and I felt as if I were conducting all my therapy sessions by the seat of my pants in an effort to get all that paperwork done.
Since then I have implemented a very drill based articulation program (in response to research that kids need as many productions as possible per session.) For many of my articulation kids there are no more games. I pull them into their classroom "pods" for 10 minutes, 3 times a week, and do mainly drill. They have adjusted well, no longer complain about not having games, and I've exited more kids than ever using this model. I still try to use curriculum based themes with the language kids, while clearly working on the target skills. As often as possible I use materials from their curriculum. This is especially important for the preschool and kindergarten crowd whose curriculum IS those fun art and snack projects that intrinsically have so many opportunities to target language (vocabulary, sequencing, requesting, commenting, etc.)
I would like to know where your therapy style falls on the thematic vs skill oriented spectrum. Do you use fun, thematic based materials (such as the Perkilou materials) cut and dry skill builder worksheets, or something in between? For better or worse, I think my therapy style falls somewhere in between sometimes vacillating from one end to another.
Alexandra Streeter's posts will appear on alternate Mondays.