If your child has a speech or language delay, it can take quite a bit of work to help them develop their skills and become confident communicators. Your speech pathologist will work with you and your child during therapy sessions to develop the right skills, but home practice is also very important.
If home practice seems a bit daunting, there are some tried and tested speech therapy tools including Modelling and Recasting that will make it easier. These tools work during therapy sessions and are also simple tools you can use to help your child build language and communication skills at home. Read on to find out how we support you and help with home practice.
Supporting Parents So You Can Support Your Child
It is no secret that the team at A Growing Understanding love working with parents to help you develop the skills and confidence to work on your child’s speech and language goals at home. By implementing speech pathology services that are anchored in what we call the three E’s of Family Growth (engagement, encouragement and empowerment), we essentially become your coach, and you become the primary person delivering the therapy.
This may sound challenging, particularly when you consider all the things you already juggle at home. But by employing what is known as ‘parent-implemented intervention’, we can ensure that speech therapy:
- is extended and incorporated into every part of your child’s day
- involves communication between child and parent, not just child and speech pathologist
- involves play and daily activities (such as mealtime, bath time and bedtime) that are familiar and meaningful to the child, instead of unfamiliar clinic-based activities
- can happen on an ongoing basis in comfortable surroundings
- is motivating and fun for your child
So how can we make all this easier for you? Luckily, it is not through basic ‘homework’ tasks with worksheets and boring activities. It is through simple, effective speech therapy tools that you can use easily at home.
Speech Therapy Tools to Help with Home Practice
The trick to getting the most out of your home practice is knowing your child’s goals (first and foremost) and then utilising specific speech therapy tools to help work on those speech and language goals at home.
Modelling and recasting are natural tools that you can use to help your child learn various communication and language skills. These tools are effective and our favourite home practice strategies because they help your child focus on the rules they need to learn, rather than their mistake.
To help parents feel confident with the delivery of at-home ‘therapy’, one of our favourite (and effective) tools to teach is ‘modelling’. Modelling is a great tool for all parents (even those that have children without a language delay) and can be used to help your child develop expressive language skills, build their vocabulary, work on their clarity and improve their understanding of the ‘rules’ of language and grammar.
What is Modelling?
If we think about being a good role model, we know that this involves ‘showing’ rather than ‘telling’. Modelling in relation to speech therapy incorporates the same principles. For example, you can model the expressive language you would like your child to develop, rather than correcting or out-right instructing them to say certain words, phrases, sentences. By hearing the correct use of language (as you respond to your child), they will begin to master it by themselves.
One way to incorporate modelling into everyday communication with your child is through simple narration of tasks or activities. By talking about everything you are doing, you are providing your child with as many models of language as possible. Your self-talk, which may feel strange at first (and your neighbours might think you have gone a little batty), can help your child learn labels of common actions and objects in their environment, varying sentence structures, and functional language that may help them express their feelings.
For example, you may describe what you are doing when making dinner: “I’m putting the pasta into the pot of boiling water.” Or, you may describe your emotions and coping strategies in a tricky moment: “I can’t find my phone. I am feeling frustrated. I am going to take a deep breath and ask Daddy if he knows where it is.”
If you adopt a modelling approach to speech and language development, rather than an instructive approach, all interactions with your child can become learning opportunities, and your home will become a language-rich environment in which your child can build their communication skills.
Recasting is one of the easiest and most effective tools we can teach a parent to use outside of a therapy session. It is actually a form of ‘modelling’ which means it also takes the ‘show’ don’t ‘tell’ approach. It allows your child to hear more accurate and descriptive language, and provides them with plenty of opportunities to listen to and figure out how the English language works.
What is Recasting?
Simply put, recasting involves modelling and expanding language for your child without correcting them. As your child’s communication partner, you may repeat something they have said back to them but with more detailed language and correct grammar.
For example, your child might say: “Daddy go.” And you might respond with: “Yes, Daddy has gone to work.”
Or, your child might say: “Want apple.” And you might respond with: “I want an apple, please.”
If you were to correct your child’s grammar and speech, rather than model it for them (i.e. saying “No, you don’t say ‘want spoon,’ you say ‘I want the spoon’”) puts negative pressure on your child, and research suggest that children simply do not learn language this way.
By implementing the recasting tool, you can teach your child language and communication skills in a positive, low-pressure way. It also keeps the conversational exchange going which offers more opportunities for ‘modelling’ and expanding their language skills, while showing your child you are listening to them and focusing on their words.
Implementing Home Practice Tools
Helping your child work on speech and language goals at home should not be stressful. With the support of your speech pathologist and the right tools, you can implement effective ‘therapy’ at home that supports your child’s language and communication development in a positive way.
Remember, you are the most important teacher in your child’s life. They learn so much from you, and by adopting the modelling and recasting tools you can provide positive interactions with your child that not only helps them build essential skills, but let’s them know you are listening.