I was sitting in an IEP meeting and a cold dread started seeping from my throat to my toes. I was terrified of what I was going to say to the parents sitting across from me. They were desperate for their son to talk- so desperate, that our meeting was solely focused on that one topic. As the paid speech and language expert in the room, it was my job to help them.
To help this family I needed to do three things:
- Help them understand the severity of their son’s disorder. SPOILER ALERT: I failed. (But that is a story for another time.)
- Inspire their confidence in my ability to help their son. I would like to think we made some progress in this area by the end of the school year, but lets be honest, I know we will never be best buds.
- Help them help their son at home. SECOND SPOILER: I would like to think I was successful, but I was not efficient… keep reading to find out what happened.
Let’s go back to that IEP meeting. The parents wanted their son to talk, so they were requesting more speech time. I increased his speech time at school, but I knew that this little boy needed help outside of school too. His parents were already trying to help him at home but they didn’t have a strategy and frankly, they weren’t using good techniques. I really wanted to help this little boy and his family, but as a school SLP I had limited contact with the caregivers outside of IEP meetings.
The mother and I exchanged email addresses, and each week I told her the goals we were targeting in speech and ways that she could practice them at home. Trying to teach her how to facilitate a language rich environment through email was tedious. I kept thinking to myself “There has to be a better way to give this family home practice activities.” I hoped there might be some sort of homework calendar for nonverbal students on Teachers Pay Teachers, but the only homework calendars I could find required the student to have expressive language skills. Since this boy had very limited expressive language skills, none of those resources would work for me.
I spent all school year thinking about this problem. I spent all school year thinking about how I could do this better. I wanted something that I could easily print and give to the parents of nonverbal and limited verbal students that would help them practice language skills at home. I wanted something that could be used for every nonverbal preschool, PPCD, kindergarten and early intervention student on my caseload. I wanted something that would get me through the entire school year. I wanted something that would teach caregivers how to work on language skills using everyday items.
Since nothing like that existed…I created it. It was my first big project on Teachers Pay Teachers and y’all, it took me F-O-R-E-V-E-R. I sat down and made my first draft and put it up for sale. It was awful, but someone purchased it. That person then promptly gave me a well-deserved, terrible review. (If that person ever reads this, I am so sorry you bought that.)
But I still felt strongly about this project so I called my grandmother and asked for her help. My grandmother is a well experienced teacher, and I knew she would have some wisdom for me. We hashed a new plan for my calendar and my grandmother agreed to be my editor. I slowly churned out each month until the calendar I have today was completed. I was so happy when that dang thing was finished!
My Nonverbal Speech Therapy Homework Calendar
Each week focuses on common areas of weakness and 2-3 skills are targeted each week. It also very loosely follows the kindergarten curriculum of the district I worked in. I did this so that my students could practice the vocabulary they were learning at school, at home. Most of the activities can be completed using items people probably have at home, but there is a shopping list that should be sent home with the caregivers at the beginning of the month so they can make sure they have everything they need on hand. Each activity is then explained using basic vocabulary and tells the caregivers what skills are being practiced during any given activity. As the educator, all you have to do is print off the calendar and companion activities and send them home.
Even though all that stuff I just mentioned is great, I think the best part is that no expressive language abilities are needed to complete any of the activities in the calendar.
So now you are asking, “Can you tell me more about this calendar?” Honestly, I could talk about this calendar for days, but I think the preview, product description, and free sample do a better job of showing you what is included in the resource. Just click on the image below if you want to learn more!
One more thing…my sweet friend Kaitlyn (aka The Stay at Home Teacher) created a blog post about the resources she uses with daughter as part of their home school-preschool routine. She mentions this calendar and several other resources that would be helpful to speech language pathologists, special education teachers, and early interventionists. If you want to read more about these resources, click here!