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Five Ways to Keep Speech Therapy Going Over School Breaks

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Professional speech therapy, at school or in a private office, is invaluable to a child with speech and language problems. But inevitably, there are breaks in service. School's out. Therapist quits or goes on maternity leave and the school is slow with the replacement. Private therapist goes on vacation, or relocates and you have to find a new one. It happens. To keep your child moving forward, try these five ideas for at-home therapy. You'll be surprised how much you can help.

1. Use "Teach Me How to Say It Right" as your textbook.

This slim, helpful volume offers numerous exercises for evaluating your child's speech needs and meeting them through everyday situations. If you want to get started in a hurry, jump to Chapters 5, 6 and 7 for a wealth of fun techniques to improve your child's speech and language.

2. Order some professional equipment.

Speech-therapy catalogs like The Speech Bin, LinguiSystems and Academic Communication Associates allow you to order the same books and games that school speech therapists use. These tools are not cheap, but may give you a springboard to starting fun sessions with your child and seeing what you can improvise along the same lines.

3. Read the IEP.

If your child has an IEP, read it over again -- just as you'd expect any therapist working with your youngster to do. Review the speech goals, along with any techniques or yardsticks that are listed with them. Review academic and behavioral goals, too, and think about how your child's speech challenges impact these. Use what you've read to choose the things you want to work on with your child, whether it's just what the therapist has targeted or not.

4. Teach figures of speech.

One area that might be causing your child problems in using and understanding language is figures of speech and figurative language. Your child's speech therapist may not be putting much work into this area, but it's an easy thing for you as a parent to target, both during speech-therapy breaks and all through the year. Follow our tips on teaching figures of speech using the book What Did You Say? What Do You Mean?

5. Expose your child to language.

Do it all the time. Talk to your child. Narrate everything you're doing. Identify the words for even the simplest objects and actions in your child's environment, and do it again. Read with your child. Read to your child. Play word games. Watch TV with your child and talk about what the characters are talking about. Ask your child questions that require more than a yes/no answer. Invite your child to ask you questions. Talk. Talk, talk, talk. Practice makes everything easier, eventually.
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