I feel like I am always hunting for the next best speech therapy homework ideas. Assigning speech therapy homework has the potential to reduce time in therapy and create parent buy-in. This is great in theory. Unfortunately, I usually feel like I am wasting my time by being efficient or because parents don’t participate. Then, I get frustrated and usually give up.
Here are two scenarios. Tell me if they sound familiar to you:
Scenario #1: It is the end of an outpatient session. You tell the parent “Today we worked on X Skill” try and find ways to do more of X Skill at home this week. *Mom stares at you with glazed eyes and nods her head.*
Scenario #2: You look at your school-based caseload of 60+ students and wonder how in the heck you should tackle the homework monster. You get overwhelmed and promise you will come back to it later, but then you forget about it.
Guess who has personally lived through both of those scenarios? You’re right, it’s me.
I am still not perfect at assigning speech therapy homework, but I am getting better. Today I am sharing a few ideas that might help you become more consistent at assigning speech therapy homework. I also hope it will help your caregivers feel more confident as they complete it.
Tip #1: Assign short activities with very clear and specific instructions-written down!
Parents have a lot on their plates and they forget what we say. They also are overwhelmed. Chances are, they (and their kid) don’t want to spend time doing speech homework. Having a clearly defined goal allows them to feel like they don’t need to constantly be working on speech therapy.
Tip #2: Be Strategic With Your Lesson Plans
I very rarely print off specific activities to send home as homework. Use activities in your speech sessions that are easily repurposed into homework. For example, these reading passages have questions on the side so that parents know exactly what to do. Crafts, games, and worksheet-type activities work well for this.
If I didn’t do an activity that is easy to send home, I will literally write an assignment on a piece of notebook paper in the last 3 minutes of a session and send it home with a simple note explaining the assignment. It doesn’t have to be fancy to be effective!
If I am working on something a little more complex, I love sending home a really good handout that will educate the parents. I use these sets for pragmatic language and for early intervention that walk parents through specific strategies that they can easily use at home.
Tip #3: Create A Speech Folder
Get into a routine with a speech folder from the very beginning. At the first IEP/Parent meeting, explain to your parents that you will be sending home a speech folder with homework in it. They are expected to complete the activity in the folder to promote maximum progress. After each session, slide in the activity, and send it home.
Tip #4: Ask the Parents For Help
It is frustrating to see that folder come back piled high with uncompleted homework activities. I get it. But don’t give up! Kindly ask parents if they are able to complete the assignments. If they say no, politely ask if there is anything you can do to make things easier for them. When you ask, you are holding them accountable, reminding them that you are needing their help, and you have the opportunity to get feedback that will challenge you to grow and adapt as a therapist.
Even if that folder still comes back unused, you will have the peace of mind that you are doing the best for that student and sometimes that is the most comforting feeling of all.
These are just a few ideas I have found that make sending home speech therapy homework, a little easier. I hope they help you become a confident, strategic, and effective homework assigning SLP! You got this!