Early in articulation therapy, lots of time goes into teaching; teaching sound discrimination, teaching placement, teaching production in isolation. After the teaching phase is complete, and the child can produce the sound in isolation/words, then the drill portion begins. We aim for the maximum number of trials to retrain the child’s articulators. What I want to talk to you about is what happens after the teaching and drill phase. I’m not talking about carryover outside of the speech room-that’s a topic for another day, and something that should be targeted through every step of the process. I’m talking about that time between. Where your student still needs practice on their sounds, but they have it in the “super-structured” scenarios we’ve created for them. How can we make the most of this phase?
We can make the most of this phase by carefully selecting materials to optimize therapy time. We can target a variety of other skills, academic and social, while we also work on articulation. This also can allow us to group students at this stage in their articulation therapy very easily with students working on other goals. This will also help students (and their hard-working SLP) avoid becoming bored with therapy!
- Build Literacy Skills- For non-readers, phonemic awareness tasks are an awesome place to start. While reading a story, have students raise their hand if they hear their target sound. Chose a word in the story and ask students to tell you how many syllables are in it, or ask them to invent a word that rhymes with it. I was struggling to find books for my emergent readers, so I created some that are loaded with kindergarten level words targeting S-Blends. For readers, have students read the books aloud. If they are the only student working on articulation in a mixed group, have them be the “reader”. Otherwise, pass the book around, having each student read a page.
- Build Academic Skills- If you have teachers who are eager to collaborate, gather as much information as you can on what the student is struggling with. If math is tripping them up, have them bring their math book or math homework. Talking through math vocabulary, reading word problems, and explaining their thinking are all great ways to target articulation skills. If your teachers are less available, have students grab one of the textbooks, the novel they are reading, or a homework assignment.
- Build Social Skills- As our culture becomes more and more digital every day, it is so important that all our students are taught appropriate social skills. Use your social skill materials with your articulation students! Place your articulation students in a social skills group, maybe this will give them an awesome opportunity to be a leader! If there are any printed materials you are working with, have your articulation students highlight or circle the words that contain their target sound(s). I created character building social skill interactive journals with my older mixed groups in mind!
I hope you found these tips for making articulation therapy more meaningful useful! I would love to hear what you are doing to make your therapy more meaningful to students!