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3 Ways to Incorporate Speech Therapy Practices into Your Classroom

With books, print, a host of instructions, and multiple children around, a classroom can be quite challenging for children experiencing language difficulties. Younger children may have trouble concentrating in a noisy classroom; they may not understand new words or experience difficulty categorizing words.

It's even more challenging for middle school kids who by now are expected to be independent readers and are probably also dealing with hormonal changes, class choices, increased academic demands, and peer interactions.

Whether you're teaching young children or growing mid-schoolers, here are three ways to incorporate speech therapy in your class.

1. Engage in Conversations to Improve Language Skills

Here are some ways to help kids who struggle with pronunciation or communicating effectively in the classroom.

Preschool and Elementary Students

  • Ask leading questions: For example, say, "What are you building with your blocks" if the child says "a train," ask them, "have you been on a train?"
  • Model the correct pronunciation of words: For example, if the student says "TWain," when you repeat the word, make sure to emphasize "TRain" as you use the word.
  • Provide cues to words using the beginning sound: For example, "That is a trrr," "Train!" "Great job, a train."

Middle School Students

  • Encourage students to tell age-appropriate stories to increase the link between reading, thinking, visualizing, and speaking.
  • Expand your student's vocabulary by leading them to read diverse texts, including grade-appropriate graphic novels.
  • Help your students transition from academic language to social language and vice versa. You can model this by stating something using academic language and then paraphrasing it using everyday language.

2. Read to Understand the Purpose of the Text

As educators and even the general public, we often associate reading problems with a child's inability to decode letters and translate them into spoken language. While this is common, some students need help understanding vocabulary or comprehending what the text is about.

Preschool and Elementary Students

  • Begin with phonemic awareness to help the child hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds into words. The process may be slow initially, but soon enough, the child will automatize the cognitive process and become fluent.
  • Teach your students sight words: Use flashcards and games to help your students build large bases of sight words. It will help turn them into faster and more fluent readers since they don't have to pause to think about the spelling and pronunciation of common words.
  • Use songs, rhymes, flashcards, and games to teach your students letter sounds. The fun nature of these activities makes them memorable and effective for learning.

 Middle School Students

  • Introduce students to metacognition. Get the students to clarify their reason for getting into reading. As they go through the text, they should monitor their understanding, speed, and comprehension depending on the text's difficulty.
  • Use multisensory strategies to teach new vocabulary and help them understand more of what they hear. 
  • Model thinking strategies to help your students sustain sufficient attention to grasp important information. Encourage them to develop questions as they read, visualize the text, and try to predict what will happen next in the text.  

3. Write as a Form of Expression

Mastery of language is achieved through written and spoken communication. If a child has trouble with coherence or clarifying what they mean, they may find writing frustrating. Here are practices worth incorporating into your class.

Preschool and Elementary Students

  • Incorporate kinesthetic letter formation: Clay, ribbons, and food items are great ways for kids to form letters and words.
  • Allow kids to come up with silly sentences: Create vocabulary flashcards that kids can manipulate to assemble silly logic-defying sentences. This fun activity allows them to explore their imagination and encourages positivity toward language.
  • Include games and art where kids can draw or paste simple images along with letters that form the name of those pictures.

Middle School Students

  • Encourage students to have an ideas dump. This is an easily accessible place where they can record ideas, cool words, and pictures to draw inspiration for writing at a later stage.
  • Model your own writing. Offer plenty of examples where you verbalize your thought process to help students visualize strong examples of writing. 
  • Go for freewriting. Set a timer where students write down whatever topic comes to mind nonstop for that duration. Encourage them not to worry about grammar or spelling, as the point is to keep ideas flowing and the pencil moving.

Written by Evelyn Maina
Education World Contributor
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