Speech therapy parent handouts for the early intervention population can be an absolute life saver. But, do you really just want to send home any old handout? I don’t.
Let me confess something:I used to be a tad judgy about how parents would “work” with their kids at home. I could never quite figure out why parents would appear to only focus on teaching their kids the ABC’s but seemed to ignore more functional language skills. (If you are a parent reading this, I humbly ask your forgiveness for my previous ignorance.)
All of that changed in March of 2017 when I had my first child. “I will be different from other moms”, I told myself pridefully, “I will do everything right.” Go ahead. Laugh. Roll your eyes. It’s fine. If you have read any of my other blog posts or emails you know I have been humbled many times in recent years.
Here’s the thing. Being a mom painfully opens your eyes to the fact that you can’t do “everything right”. For starters the very definition of “everything right” changes drastically depending on which expert you are asking. But more importantly, we are all human. We are made to be imperfect and exhaustible creatures who need rest and have a finite list of capabilities.
I could right an entire post on this alone, but let me segue into the actual topic of this post: helping parents build language skills at home. You see, I am in a unique situation as I am writing this post. I am currently the mom of a 2- and 3-year-old. There are a few years of SLP’ing under my belt, and I am a TpT’er with the skills and knowledge to create helpful resources.
I am piling these metaphorical hats on my head to create handouts for parents who are in this life stage with me.
But these are not like any other early intervention parent handout you have given out. These handouts were made by someone currently in the trenches of parenting littles. I now know exactly how hard it is to do #allthethings.
Here is how these Early Intervention Speech Therapy Parent Handouts work:
These handouts explain the language strategy and breaks it down using simple language, easy to follow steps, and clear examples.
Each handout provides prompts to guide parents through visualizing what each specific strategy would look like in their home, with their child.
There is a space to physically write out a plan for successfully implementing each strategy.
The best part of this resource though, is that I give my very own SLP-Mom tips.
There are over 25 pages of practical, non-judgy, SLP Mom approved tips and tricks for teaching language at home. All you have to is print them off and send them home. There is an English version, a Spanish version, and a bundle that has them both for a discount!
Oh! I also have an entire series of videos where I am personally teaching how to use some of these strategies. Feel free to pass it along to anyone that is looking for ideas of ways to do speech therapy type activities at home with their little one!
Ok, before I sign off let me loop back around to that first thought. I now know that those parents who were fixating on the ABC’s were just doing their best. The truth was, I was letting those parents down by not having appropriate resources to help them! They were working on what they knew to do-and that should be applauded! I wish I had had these handouts then, so I could confidently hand them something that I knew could make a difference.
Now, if you know me, you know I value transparency in everything I post, say, and do. So, I hope that you find the honesty and growth in my story and can relate to it and not hold my previous judgy-ness against me.
Wouldn’t it be nice if your preschool students had an engaging fall themed activity where they learned new, salient, vocabulary while they work on their articulation?
Be honest, have you ever looked at a deck of articulation cards and wondered how many of the words the child actually knows? Particularly those little friends who are not only speech delayed, but language delayed as well?
Now, tell me if this scenario sounds familiar to you: You are working with a preschool student. He (or she) is unintelligible and has many phonological processes. He also has language delays and needs to learn new vocabulary. OH, AND HE CAN’T SIT STILL…because, I mean, he is in PRESCHOOL…
Have you experienced this? Are you bored of using the same articulation cards with words that aren’t even relevant to this child’s life?
1.) Pick the targets that aligns with your student’s speech goals. Print, cut, and laminate those cards. You can store them on a binder ring, or they fit nicely into these task card boxes from Michael’s.
2.) Take some time to teach your student about the vocabulary words on his/her cards. Look at pictures, videos, and discuss the words. This is important, because, as the student hears them in class or at home in the upcoming months, s/he will be familiar with them!
3.) Follow the steps on the cards. Have your student move a clothespin as you complete each step on the right hand side of the card. In the first step, you will model the word for your student. I would do this maybe 5x or so.
Move the clothes pin down, this is the fun section! Have your student touch the circle as he/she says the sound. I would do this at least 5x for each word so that you can get in as many trials as possible.
You could also use pom poms, play dough, dry erase markers, or paint dabbers to mix things up. These fine motor activities are really great for kiddos who need to keep moving their hands!
Finally, move the clip to the last step. In this step the student practices saying the word as independently as possible.
This articulation activity is awesome because, once your student is familiar with the process, you can review and practice all fall long. They make a great warm up or exit activity for your speech therapy sessions!
These cards do all the things a good speech therapy resource does:
We need to talk and I want to be 100% honest with you. I am not an expert Speech-Language
Pathologist. There are many, many things I don’t know.
Phew! *Wipes brow* Serious moment done! Now that you know
that I will NEVER pretend to be anything I am not; we can talk about narratives
and their role in speech therapy.
The reason I need you to know I am not an expert SLP is because I used to know nothing about teaching narratives. I didn’t even know I should be working on them! I discovered their importance while reading some reviews on The Informed SLP. (Seriously-click that link to check it out, it might just change your speechie life.)
Why Should I be Working on Oral Narratives in Speech Therapy?
I am so glad you asked! As it turns out, there are quite a few reasons you should be working on narratives, but for this post I am going to focus on the three that stood out to me.
The first reason is that when you work on narrative skills, there is evidence that suggests that other language skills may improve simultaneously. My understanding is that the trick here is not to get caught up in perfecting the “microstructure” of stories, but instead to focus on improving students understanding of the “macrostructure”. (In case you need a little refresher, when I say microstructure, I am talking about things like grammar, vocabulary, syntax, etc. When I say macrostructure, I am referring to the bigger story elements such as the character, setting, problem, and solution.)
Do you know what else gets better when you work on oral narrative skills? WRITING SKILLS! We know that we need to be working on writing skills in therapy (after all, writing is written language). But typically, we only have about 30 minutes at a time to get our speech business done and, oh my word, writing takes FOREVER. It almost feels like a waste of a session when you spend the entire 30 minutes helping each of the four students in your mixed group write two, maybe three sentences. I’m just saying, if the people who know more about these things than me say that when you work on oral narratives it also helps with writing skills, I think we should be giving it a try. I am all about efficiency, and what is more efficient than working on two things at once?
According to ASHA, storytelling deficits are indicative of pragmatic language disorders. (Click the link here if you want to read what ASHA has to say). So working on oral narratives not only helps students with receptive and expressive and writing deficits, but it ALSO helps with social language disorders?! That is like working on four things at once! If working on two things is efficient, what does that make working on four things?
How Do Oral Narrative Skills Develop?
As it turns out, narrative skills actually begin to develop when children are very young. (As I began researching this topic, I read this article that showed me that my two-year-old son is already learning narrative skills!) When we are talking about how narrative skills develop, it gets pretty complex really quickly. I am not even going to attempt to break down the complexity of these development skills, but I am going to tell you the basic hierarchy I developed that I think makes a good starting point for your everyday speech therapist.
Retelling Stories About Familiar Routines:
In the first stage, children are talking about familiar routines. Since they
have done these things before, they have an easier time sequencing and
organizing the story.
Retelling Past Personal Experiences: In the
second stage students begin to tell a story that actually happened to them. It
requires students to pull an event from their long-term memory and sequencing
skills might deteriorate slightly.
Retelling a Fictional Story: The next
step is having your students retell a fictional story. This is best done with
stories that have easy to identify characters, settings, problems, and
solutions. In this stage, students must now rely more heavily on sequencing
skills and short-term memory skills.
Creating a Fictional Story: Students
begin creating their own fictional stories in the final stage. This is the most
complex stage because it requires students to have an understanding of story
elements, sequencing skills, and they must also rely heavily on both their long
term and short-term memory to create a story that makes sense.
How Do I Work on Oral Narratives in Speech Therapy?
Now for the moment you have all been waiting for! (Cue the drum roll in your head) It is time to talk about how we can target oral narrative skills in speech therapy!
Target sequencing skills. Many students who struggle with storytelling skills have a hard time organizing a story into a logical structure, so we need to be making sure our students are proficient in this skill.
Teach the main story elements (macro elements). Again, you can make this much more complicated, but for your average SLP, I personally think targeting the basic story elements (character, setting, problem, and solution) are a good starting point when you are trying to target macro elements. I would suggest helping your students get really proficient at identifying these and then moving onto more complicated story elements, if you think it is necessary.
Help your students identify the main idea. Often times when students struggle with narratives, they have a hard time getting to the point of the story. They get wrapped up in details and never really tell us what they wanted to say in the first place. Helping them learn to weed out the main idea from the details will help them tell more stream lined stories.
Help your students make personal connections to the story. This is the basic stage of making inferences. When students feel connected to the characters in the story, it makes it easier for them to make emotional inferences. This is especially important to work on with students who have Autism or pragmatic language disorders.
Practice making inferences about the emotional states of the characters. This is the more advanced stage of making inferences. It is known that students with Autism struggle with understanding the emotional states of characters in stories, so the more you can practice this, the better. A great way to introduce this skills is by showing a picture that shows an emotion and helping your students make a story about the picture.
Pre-teach Tier 2 Vocabulary: If students are retelling a story, make sure they understand the important Tier 2 Vocabulary.
Practice, practice, practice. Practice retelling stories until they are securely stored in long term memory. Each time a student retells a story, it should get better. The story should become more fluid and other language elements such as sequencing, grammar, and vocabulary should improve.
Now that I have told you everything I think you need to know to start tackling those oral narrative speech therapy goals, I want to tell you about this interactive notebook I created to help me work on narrative skills with my caseload. It will help you target each of those 7 areas that I listed above in one beautifully curated speech therapy session. Here is how it works.
Students will practice their narrative skills by
creating an interactive notebook.
Print off the activity pages and assemble them
using the instructions I have given you in the download.
As students create their notebook, they will be
practicing using sequencing skills, identifying story elements, finding the
main idea, making inferences, and practicing some Tier 2 Vocabulary.
By creating a notebook, students have all the
resources they need to go back and practice retelling the stories they have
already created in the notebook. This repetition is paramount for improvement
in storytelling skills.
The activities in the notebook build in
complexity using the hierarchy I listed above. You can practice each level as
much as your students need until they are ready to move to the next section.
If you are interested in learning more about this notebook, click the picture below and it will take you to my Teachers Pay Teachers Store!
If you’re interested in upping your pragmatic language therapy/evaluation game then you have come to the right place. Let me share my tips and tricks with you so that you can approach this tricky area with confidence. Click here and we can start learning together–I even want to give you a free pragmatic language evaluation checklist so you can sample my work. If my style isn’t your cup of tea, you can unsubscribe at anytime 🙂
Articles About Narratives and Speech Therapy
Click the links below if you are interested in reading more about narratives and speech therapy!
Gillam, S. L., Olszewski, A., Squires, K., Wolfe, K., Slocum, T., & Gillam, R. B. (2018, April 5). Improving Narrative Production in Children With Language Disorders: An Early-Stage Efficacy Study of a Narrative Intervention Program. Retrieved from https://pubs.asha.org/doi/10.1044/2017_LSHSS-17-0047