Engage Parents as Partners

05/11/2022

Parents of children with disabilities can contribute much to their child’s speech-language development and reading skills. Most are eager to do so. Unfortunately, many parents and other caretakers may be reluctant; fearing they lack the knowledge, expertise, skills, and time necessary to provide meaningful assistance. Teachers, SLPs, and other educators value the contributions parents can bring to instruction and intervention. However, it can be difficult to find time and opportunities to share recommendations due to their own constraints or lack of resources. These situations have been a driving force over the course of my career in speech-language pathology and special education. As a result, it’s been my pleasure to create and share materials designed to engage parents as partners.

Three key goals serve as my guide as I develop home programs:

  1. Concentrate on speech, language, hearing and reading skills that children need to succeed in their home, school, and community activities.
  2. Explain teaching and therapy intervention techniques that can be easily employed by parents and caretakers to teach and reinforce speech-language and reading skills.
  3. Make learning new skills fun. Encourage parents and other caretakers to seize opportunities and experiences that naturally occur within their home or community as teaching moments.

Throughout my career I have created several parent-friendly resources and home programs with these components in mind. I’m happy to share an example: Let’s Talk Today! A Calendar of Daily Activities for Teaching Language Skills at Home! It is a practical home program designed to stimulate language development in children, ages 3-7, who are developing typically or experiencing communication delays or impairments. It can be used by therapists and educators to encourage language development and/or complement speech-language therapy and classroom Language Arts instruction. I apply the three key goals in the following ways:

Target Important Language Skills

To be successful, students must understand basic concepts, expand vocabulary, formulate questions, talk about experiences, give and follow directions, express ideas, solve problems, plan events, and much more.

Explain Language Teaching Techniques

Parents often ask therapists and teachers what they can do to help their child succeed. We can help them feel more capable and comfortable by using simple terms and examples to explain the techniques they can use when interacting with their child during home activities. Instead of using professional jargon, I simplify the techniques and refer to them as “Tips for Success”. As an example, I suggest that parents “Describe actions while engaged in an activity.” or “Talk to yourself bout what you are doing, thinking, feeling doing chores.”

Practical, Fun Activities

SLPs and educators find that homework assignments aren’t completed, especially when in the form of drills, worksheets etc. An alternative approach is to imbed the instruction and learning in engaging activities that involve, following instructions, solving problems, learning new tasks, investigating, presenting new information, and more. Let’s Talk Today! is in a convenient 12-month calendar format. It includes 400 fun and interesting learning activities appropriate for children ages 3-7 who are developing language skills or experiencing delays or communication impairments. Most activities take only 10-15 minutes to complete. They can be accomplished in the comfort of the home or while exploring the community or neighborhood. Minimal supplies, materials, and costs are involved.

Give It a Try!

Feel free to download the attached Let’s Talk Today! month of May. Scan or print to send home with the children you serve. Share it with your speech-language and education colleagues. Learn more by visiting: www.CSSEconsult.com

Share Your Thoughts!

You are invited to respond to this blog with questions, ideas, and examples of how you are working with parents of the students you serve.

Enjoy!

Jean Blosser

Jean Blosser

Dr. Jean Blosser, CCC-SLP, Ed.D., ASHA Fellow, President of Creative Strategies for Special Education, AmplioLearning Advisory Council Chair.Jean is a national expert and leader in school special education and speech-language pathology services. She is passionate about creating systems and practices in schools that focus on providing educationally relevant services by linking intervention to school success and partnering with our education partners and students’ families. To Jean, Collaboration is Essential! She is author of "Speech-Language Pathology in Schools: Organization and Service Delivery" (6th Ed., 2021) and "Pediatric Brain Injury: Proactive Intervention" (3rd Ed, 2021). She has created numerous parent-friendly resources including "Let's Talk Today! A Calendar of Daily Activities for Teaching Language Skills at Home!" and "Let’s Celebrate and Learn Each Day!" Jean provides professional development seminars and consults with schools, organizations, and businesses that work with schools to improve quality of services.

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