I love working on Speech Sounds.  In comparison to much of my caseload it is straightforward.  We establish the sound, practice it, put in words, practice it, and then put it in phrases, practice it and so on.  The sequence is predictable and the student keeps on moving.  Right?

Well, not always.  Speech home practice between visits is important.  Families that practice between sessions see the best results. Families that don’t even think about their target sound between sessions usually don’t.

I used to find this frustrating.  Sometimes I even felt helpless – how could I promote change with only a 1/2 hour session per fortnight and no practice in the meantime.  Then I became a mum.

Music practice, sport practice, school homework and getting dinner on the table.  I realised that some of the practice I was sending home was not conducive to family life.

In our sessions, we adapt our presentation, support and cues to help our clients in the best way possible.  We need to bring this same focus to the homework we set.  Learn about the family dynamics.  Understand their routine.  Adapt the homework so the practice goals align with what can actually get done.  Find ways to fit homework into the daily routine.

Some ways we have been doing this include:

– making tiny books that can fit in a handbag

– stringing artic cards on a pipe cleaner to make a bracelet

– keeping artic cards in the car (great for runs to the school, supermarket or sports ground)

– working with teachers to select books which are sound loaded

The key here is to be inventive.  Chunk homework tasks, then create the resources to support them.

Whilst we need to find out what will work for families, I see more success by giving something tangible.  Hence all the “on the fly” ideas.  One idea that lots of families enjoy is the idea of practicing speech sounds while shopping.  Shopping is a regular family task and one where children are along, but not always focused on the task at hand.  I find more and more that I am writing “I spy shopping lists” for articulation.   The fabulous pay off?  We are adding a new environment for the student to practice and focus on their speech.

For younger students who sit in the shopping trolley, face-to-face with their parent this is the perfect place for practice.  The student has a clipboard and pen and is ‘spying’ for the things on their list.  When they find them they report to their mum or dad what they have found.  This word level activity expands into a phrase or sentence level activity by using a sentence starter or talking about the item.  Parents report a win-win as their children focus on their ‘game’ and they can get their shopping done.  With this activity having great results I decided to make a resource.  This is a little prettier than my hand written, hand drawn shopping lists.

My latest resource takes this idea a step further. I have complied a list of sound specific items into a shopping “I spy”.  There is a page for commonly targeted sounds with each page containing words in initial, medial and final position.