Planning for Practice
With speech sound therapy, guided questions may help children recognize which words to practice and allow for visualization of a semi-independent practice routine.
Co-create a list of practice words:
• Which of these words did you think were your star words – your best words?
• Which of these words do you want to practice more?
• Do you think that you should practice three words or five words? Five words or ten words?
Highlighting successful productions during the treatment session helps students recognize which productions were the clearest, e.g., “that’s your star word”, “that’s your show-off word”, “that’s your rock star word”. When students choose their practice words from a small set of acceptable options, we may gain insight into their self-awareness of their own performance and their level of desired challenge.
Co-create a practice card with instructions:
• What directions do we need to give your mouth? What do we need to tell your tongue to do? What do we need to tell your lips to do?
• What should we tell your tongue to do if it has trouble? What reminders should we give it?
Separating and personifying the articulators may help students form a sense of control by reminding them that they may direct their own motor movements. Expecting that the articulators (not the student) occasionally make mistakes may depersonalize possible feelings of self-judgment or concerns around perfectionism.
Co-design a plan for practice:
• Do you think that you should practice for five minutes, or for ten minutes?
• Where will you practice?
• What materials do you need?
• Who will be with you? Who will listen to you? If you are by yourself, what will you look for and listen for?
• How will you know if your tongue is doing what you want it to do? What will you feel? What will you hear?
• If your mouth isn’t doing what you want it to do, how will you fix it?
• How will you reward yourself for doing a good job? What will you say to yourself when you’re finished? What do you usually say to yourself when you are proud of what you’ve done?
Describing and visualizing how, where, and when practice will be completed in another setting may help students develop a mental image of specific behavior patterns. Including self-evaluative and self-repair strategies may help students understand that practice is about self-monitoring and making continual adjustments. Success is noticing and altering movement patterns. Positive self-talk and providing one’s own internal reinforcement may help foster a sense of pride and accomplishment. Questions can be simplified and shortened for younger students with an emphasis on being proud of sharing your words with others.
Sometimes students practice at home and sometimes they don’t. There are many internal and external factors that affect everyone’s lives, however, scripting a routine for practice may help many students see themselves as capable of establishing new patterns.