I Don't Have Time to Practise!
Being a parent is a full-time job and a half. Add on work, a house, social commitments and the discovery that your child has speech and/or language difficulties and it can all seem too much. Where am I to find the time to sit down with my child and practise her /s/ words? I want to play with my children and support their language growth, but once I finish work, get the groceries and cook dinner, it’s time for them to go to bed and my day has run out!
First of all, you’re not alone. And second, don’t forget to take a moment to realise what an amazing job you’re doing. We often tend to beat ourselves up about what we think we aren’t doing and fail to take note of all the great things we ARE doing. Know also that it's okay to come to speech therapy sometimes and say We did no practice this week. That's life and we are a guilt-free practice!
And it is tricky to set aside dedicated time for speech practice at home. That’s why we’ve come up with a few handy tips for maximizing the time you have with your child, to support their progress as much as you can:
Weave practice into everyday activities and routines
Opportunities to work on therapy goals are more available than you might think. You don’t have to set aside 45 minutes to work with your child at a table. In fact, lasting results are more likely to come about through practising skills in real, functional activities. Here are a few examples:
Practise /s/ sounds during bath time: splash, swim, soap, scrub.
Teach vocabulary and concepts while getting dressed: we’ll put your red jumper on Billy. Oo your jumper is soft! Over your head, pull it down aaaand….peekaboo!
Practise following instructions in the kitchen: can you get the mixing bowl, put it on the table and pour the milk in?
Extend your child’s language while walking to child care: your child points and says doggie run! You respond: the dog is running! Wow he’s running very fast!
2. Get everyone involved
Don’t underestimate the power of teamwork! There are a few therapies, such as early intervention for stuttering, that require only the parent who has been trained by the Speech Pathologist to implement the program. However, most intervention and support can be provided by a range of people, including both parents, grandparents, relatives, teachers, support workers, even siblings! Have a think about who your child has a great relationship with and include them in the intervention. The speech books your speechie gives you when beginning therapy are a fantastic way of keeping track of the strategies being used and of sharing these with others involved in your child’s life. The more exposure your child is receiving to support, the better, and a team approach relieves some of the pressure on you!
3. Find what works for you
If you know you will have a whole weekend coming up to spend with the kids, take a moment to brainstorm how you can maximise the time. Got a holiday planned? Take advantage of the unique and exciting opportunities it can offer to get into your child’s world and help them with their communication. Does your child spend most of their day with his grandparents while you are at work? Give nana and pop a rundown of some simple things they can do to add to the intervention process. Your child might love playing on the iPad while you get their breakfast ready – have a squiz at some games that are not only fun, but that can also give your child valuable language input. Everyone’s daily life is a little different and there is no right or wrong. Your Speech Pathologist can help you navigate your time to find the easiest and most beneficial ways to get in that tricky home practice and ensure your child is being supported all week long.