How to Consistently Get Practise Done with Your Child
We’ve all heard the phrase that practise makes perfect, but it can be hard to action this in our busy lives, particularly when the practise relates to our children and we need to factor in their mood, tiredness, ability to concentrate, time, etc.
Today’s blog is here to stress the value of short but consistent practise, as opposed to attempting to lump it all into a long session that exhausts everyone involved.
Tiny habits that are repeated every day have been found to help people of all ages (check out Atomic Habits by James Clear for a great read on this topic!). We have found this to be especially true for young children, for whom long periods of attention are not always possible. So, whether your speech goals revolve around learning a new sound or practising tricky spelling rules, here are a few pointers to help you set up a consistent practise routine that will lead to success:
1. It does not have to be long
Just 5 minutes a day can lead to phenomenal results if it is kept to consistently. Feel free to up this to 10 or 20 minutes if you find it is working for you and your child, but if you can only manage 5 minutes, stick to that and feel confident that you can kick this goal every single day. The key is consistency, not length.
2. Don’t skip 2 days in a row
Things come up. Emergencies happen. We forget. This is all completely normal and okay. The thing that matters is how quickly and effectively we are able to get back on track. A helpful rule to get us to do this, is to never skip two days in a row. Missing two days can lead to a lapse in the habit, where picking it up again feels harder and harder. So when you miss a day, forgive yourself and shake it off, and get right back to it tomorrow.
3. Make a plan
“I want to practise the /f/ sound with my child for 5 minutes a day.” That’s great, but you may find that when it comes time to get stuck in, you go blank as to how to make this happen, engage your child, make it fun, etc. It’s important to make a plan, which your Speech Pathologist will be able to help you with. Will you practise in the car on the way to kindy? Will you play Connect 4 in the kitchen every afternoon after school? If your child loses interest and wants to play Pop Up Pirate instead, how will you adapt? Work through a bit of a plan, so that when the time for practise comes around, you feel confident in what you’re doing. Other things to consider are: when will you have the most stress-free time? When does your child attend the best? What environment will be the most supportive for your sessions?
4. Try to finish on success
Nothing discourages us more from trying again tomorrow than ending today’s task with a failure or a big struggle. If you are finding that today’s practise session with your child is just a bit tricky and they can’t quite use their /s/ correctly in sentences, drop the difficulty down to short phrases or single words, help them succeed at that, and leave it there. We want to leave them thinking “I can do it” and the memory of this tends to stick particularly strongly at the end of a session.
5. Track progress
We all know how satisfying it is to cross things off a to-do list. A simple tick on a calendar or list can go a long way in giving you this feeling and motivating you to continue. Once you get a bit of a streak going, it will be harder to let yourself break it. Get your child involved too and you can both come up with a reward at particular intervals if you like as well.
You don’t have to do this alone and your Speechie is here to help you work out the nitty gritty. It’s important to remember that the daily practise that happens at home is the accelerator for the new steps being learned in speech therapy every week or fortnight.
P.S. Feel free to use these tips for your own personal goals. Dropping those sneaky Christmas kilos, getting that business off the ground, learning French, whatever it is; let 2021 be our year!