Parents all across Australia have been asked to take on a new and very important role in their children’s lives this week- the role of teacher.
With the majority of children to complete the next five weeks of schooling from home, parents are grappling with the daunting task of overseeing timetable practice, spelling tests, math, reading comprehension… (the list goes on) all from their dining room tables.
At Generation Physio & Allied Health, we specialise in providing in home therapies and hence consider ourselves experts in managing the challenging and distracting aspects of working with children in their most comfortable environments. Because of this, we have some tricks up our sleeves that we felt might make this time a little bit easier for parents stepping into these uncharted waters.
The Relationship Between Teachers and Speech Pathologists.
Firstly, what is the role of a speech pathologist working with children who attend kindy, school and beyond?
A large portion of the work we do as speech pathologists closely compliments what children learn from teachers throughout their years of schooling. It is estimated that between 22.3 and 24.5 percent of Australian children have some type of speech, language or communication disorder when entering school (McLeond & Harrison, 2009). Many will require additional support to help them catch up to their peers or achieve the best that they can.
Speech pathologists are often this additional ally working alongside teachers, learning support staff and parents, to help children develop important skills for life. We support children who are have difficulties with language and literacy skills, with sessions focussing on everything from reading to spelling and storytelling to implementing AAC (systems to help with communication).
Super-powers for successful home sessions
Maybe you felt like you were managing the half an hour of homework and 15 minuets of reading per night pretty well, but are a bit overwhelmed by the idea of five full weeks of lessons form home? If so, here are some helpful tips learnt through many in home literacy and speech sessions which might just save the day…
- The power of visual schedules.
You may not be a schedule writing person yourself, but for a lot of children the structure and routine of school is what helps them engage and focus. Writing up a schedule for each day, which may include pictures or colour coordinating activities, to help children understand what the day will consist of can be an excellent starting point for success.
Although for us adults, being told a list of tasks to complete is how we may get through a days work, children often respond much better to having things written somewhere they can check back to see what is coming up next. A schedule can also be a lifesaver when their attention starts to waiver, as you can draw on the visual representation to show that there isn’t much time left before a break and encourage the child to focus for just a little longer. Try setting a timer for them to add another component.
Here is a link to a great free visual schedule pack: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Visual-Schedules-for-School-Home-FREEBIE-2444399
- The power of positive reinforcement.
I am yet to meet a child who does not respond well to some type of positive reinforcement. Sticker charts, earning stars as rewards for good work, the promise of a game, high fives or simply saying “WELL DONE!” can go an incredibly long way when trying to engage a child for long stretches of time. Use what you know are your child’s motivators, set clear targets for achieving big rewards and don’t be afraid to go over the top with compliments and praise.
- The power of movement breaks.
Movement breaks have bought many therapy sessions back from the brink of disaster. Some children can only sit and concentrate for so long before they need to burn off some energy. Offer activities such as chasing bubbles, jumping on the trampoline or walking like different, as ways for your child to constructively use up or gain back some energy.
Pro tip: set a timer on your phone and let your child know that when it goes off its time to get back into the next piece of work.
- The power of being silly and getting on your child’s level.
Children love to have fun and play games. It is rare for a young child to sit and work at a table for long stretches of time without pulling their hair out. Utilise this opportunity to incorporate games and activities that your child enjoys into their schoolwork. Work is not a way of constantly testing children’s knowledge, it is for teaching them new and important skills for life.
Learning should be an enjoyable back and forward interaction between teacher and learner, so make things as fun as possible! Put on silly voices, play funny games or tell jokes. Work with what your child enjoys and the experience will be much less frustrating and more engaging for everyone involved.
- The power of carry-over into everyday life.
The opportunity for your child to learn in their own home environment and make connections between ‘school-work’ and ‘real-life’ is invaluable. Using daily routines and things around the house to reinforce what is being covered in lessons is an extremely powerful way for your child to develop an even deeper understanding of important concepts. Pointing out when you use the grammatical rule focussed on in today’s literacy lesson or spotting things around the house that start with today’s letter of the day, will model to your child how they can connect school work to day-to-day life.
This is a rare and invaluable opportunity for parents to get real insight into how their child is going at school. As mentioned earlier, many children enter school having language, speech or communication difficulties and a lot of the time these children will need some extra help to catch up.
If during this time you notice that your child is struggling with literacy, is having trouble communicating with you about their school work or are demonstrating behavioural challenges impacting on their ability to complete tasks, it is best to speak with their teacher about your concerns and see if what you are seeing at home aligns with what the teacher is seeing at school. They may require a little extra specialised support to help them along their way.
If you suspect your child may benefit from some help, give us a call on 1300 122 884 to book a consultation with one of our amazing speech pathologists or occupational therapists.