February 1, 2013 Columns

School Matters: A Speech Lesson a Day...

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."—Benjamin Franklin

When Benjamin Franklin made this statement in 1736, he probably wasn't thinking of speech-language disorders, but the idea can be easily applied to our profession. In fact, one of the many roles of a speech-language pathologist is prevention of communication disorders.

Prevention involves providing information and guidance to parents and caregivers, teachers, and other related professionals about the risk and educational impact of a communication disorder. It also can mean providing support to students who may be at risk for communication disorders.

In the classroom

An effective, SLP-designed prevention program may foster the development of the young children you see every day in your preschool. SLP-crafted, school-wide prevention efforts effectively may decrease potential caseload numbers and the severity of disorders in your school.

Model strategies to improve communication in children, such as allowing them time to respond and expanding on their answers. Use props and visual cues to reinforce skills. Your efforts need not take a great deal of time. With good collaboration, organization and planning, you can accomplish a lot. A quick 15- to 20-minute lesson each week in the preschool classroom could have a significant impact over time. Ideas for short lessons include:

  • Performing sound-symbol association tasks with an emphasis on the placement of articulators for each sound.
  • Reading short books to the class that help expand vocabulary, sounds in words and comprehension.
  • Playing rhyming games.
  • Completing simple sentences.

These opportunities are also a good way to identify children who may be at risk for communication disorders and target them for response-to-intervention programming as appropriate. The prevention measures you take today may reduce your caseload in the future.

At home

Sharing resources with parents is an essential part of prevention and can make a real difference in a child's communication development. You can suggest, for example, that they try some of these activities at home:

  • Point out words seen every day on food containers, signs and products.
  • Read to your child every day. It's OK to read the same book repeatedly if your child enjoys it.
  • Provide paper and crayons or markers for your child to draw or scribble on to encourage writing development.
  • Play rhyming games, sing age-appropriate songs and recite nursery rhymes.

ASHA's Let's Talk product is another tool to help parents help their children communicate. The product, available in English and Spanish, contains 38 handouts and a CD that allows you to customize each form with your name and contact information.

Another product to use with parents is "Talking on the Go," geared for children birth through age 5. This book features communication-enhancement strategies in the areas of vocabulary, listening and speech production, reading and writing readiness, and participation in conversations.

Finally, the popular book "Beyond Baby Talk"—recently revised—is written for parents as a guide to speech, language and literacy development. Look for all of these products in ASHA's online store.

If buying a resource is not an option, ASHA also offers three free online presentations for SLPs to use in parent group meetings or teacher in-service meetings:

You can find additional free resources for SLPs, parents and teachers at the ASHA website.

Lisa Rai Mabry-Price, MS, CCC-SLP, is ASHA associate director of school services. lmabry-price@asha.org  

cite as: Mabry-Price, L. R. (2013, February 01). School Matters: A Speech Lesson a Day.... The ASHA Leader.

  

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