Last updated Feb. 16, 2018
If your child needs speech therapy your involvement in the therapy process is invaluable. Many parents are under the misconception that their contribution to the therapy program is insignificant because they are not the professionals.
Many leave the therapy to be completed by the licensed therapist during weekly sessions. But more and more studies prove that parents play a crucial role in their children's speech therapy process.
Over the past several years, the roles of a parent in speech therapy programs have changed. No longer are parents encouraged to take a passive role, merely observing the child’s therapy regimen.
Instead, parents are now needed to take an active part in the process. Parents are key players along the path of overall progress.
With that being said, what makes a parent’s involvement so critical? Parents come from all educational backgrounds. What makes parent's involvement in child's speech therapy such a key aspect of their children’s progress?
When children are young they learn the patterns of speech as they hear them. They learn to incorporate the rules of the language they hear used. Children learn these concepts then utilize them to create speech themselves.
This learning is done through repetitive interaction with the child. It is complex and takes place over time. Interaction with family is a vital key to learning speech and language skills. Children need to be around conversation to learn and interact.
Parents are with the child nearly all day, every day. Speech therapy is to correct words that are mispronounced or to help other issues. Parents are needed to reinforce the lessons initiated in speech therapy then put them to use in the day-to-day.
Conversations with the child are very important. When parents take the speech therapists’ lessons home and implement them every day, the child learns more than with just the therapist alone.
Children learn to speak faster when they are surrounded by speech and conversation. Parents have more time with the child to build skills and clarity each week than the therapist gets during sessions.
Read to your child and talk to them, help them to respond and listen to them. Respond to what they say. Talk to them about what they are playing, and what they are doing.
Ask them what they see. Talk to them about activities for the day and encourage them to participate in the conversation. These tips lead to our next invaluable way that parents can help their children in their speech therapy process.
Daily Interaction Helps in Speech Therapy
Parents spend each day with the children and interact with them. From play with their children to mealtime, bath time and bedtime, parents are there to help the child learn living skills. Children learn how to navigate their world from their parents.
Communication is in every part of a parent and child’s day. Living skills, manners and communication are all learned here. These are all familiar activities that the child is used to and feels comfortable doing.
Daily activities with the parent put the child at ease more than clinical exercises in a therapist’s office. Children feel more comfortable at home and around their own surroundings when doing speech skills.
Parents can reinforce and interject the therapist’s exercises into their daily routine and make learning their speech therapy fun and a normal part of life to feel comfortable with.
Parents Role in Child's Speech Therapy
Parents are the most important people in their children’s lives. Many parents believe their part to be shallow and superficial but the parent is the key teacher for the child.
Parent’s know how best to reach their child mentally. They know how their children learn. They know how their children feel more than a therapist would.
Parents can also be the best motivators for their child. Children love to please their parents. When that is combined with speech therapy exercises, the children excel easier.
Ways Parents Can Help in Speech Therapy
Studies prove that a child’s communication greatly improves when parents help their children by:
- Interacting with them. Play with them, talk to them, include them in conversations.
- Responding when their child tries to communicate.
- Using “Child-Direct Speech”. This is simply talking about what your child is interested in or playing with at the time. Use simple speech in melodic tones.
- Emphasizing important words in a sentence to help the child enunciate better.
- Expanding on the child’s words. If the child says, “Dog” the parent would say, “Yes, that is your dog.”
Parents need to show patience. Do not display disapproval or frustration with the child. They are trying their best. Parents need to follow the speech therapist’s recommendations for treatment.
Most often, therapists will help guide the parents in what to do at home to reinforce lessons taught in clinical sessions.
Parents and therapists should work together to help the child. A successful collaboration is needed.
Begin with Observing
When you have the opportunity, set in the therapy session with your child. Watch as the therapist works with them.
Quite often, a therapist will only have time to update the parent on the child’s progress at the end of the session. To get tips on how to help your child, set in the session and watch the therapist.
Pick up pointers and exercises to do at home. In the end of the session, ask the therapist anything that confused you. Therapists will be glad to answer your questions and give you more insight to help you.
Continue at Home
For success, parents need to carry on lessons at home, start speech therapy at home. Children need consistency. Carry on at home, and when you are out and about, with the techniques and exercises that the speech therapist recommends.
Carry on lessons that the therapist introduces during sessions. Exercises executed by both parent and therapist allows the child to not only practice more frequently during the week but to also implement those valuable lessons in daily life situations.
The lessons click more easily as the child sees the practical reasons for them. It takes the exercises outside of the clinic setting and into the real world.
Encourage your child to speak as often as you can. Make their therapy fun and engaging. Read to your child. Praise achievements. Make goals together that coincide with the therapist’s plan for therapy.
Cheer on their minor victories as well as their major milestones. Remember, this may be hard for you but it is that much harder for them as they are learning concepts for the first time and trying to compensate for limitations.
When at home, parents need to interact one on one with their child and not use computers or TVs to help the child learn.
These are fun tools especially when they have characters that children love, but a child going through speech therapy needs to be able to see the parent’s face and see the words being formed.
Listening to a recorded voice, or watching an animated show doesn’t give a clear representation of that needed component.
Speech therapists in South Africa are there to help our children. They have a huge heart to care and the knowledge to steer our children in the right direction to help them succeed in life. But they need the parent’s help.
Parents are their children’s world. They are the caregivers the ones that love their children the most. Their lessons are taught through that love and children respond more to their parents than to anyone else in the world.
Parents have the power to see their children succeed. They have the power to motivate as no one else can.
Start the process of training your child at home and find a qualified and reliable speech therapist in South Africa to make the whole process go smooth.
When the parent joins in the therapy process along with the therapist it makes a dynamic team that encircles the child in love, attention, and all the help they need. A parent’s involvement is indispensable.