What would a therapy session look like?
You might be wondering, “What does a therapy session actually look like?” so we are here to take away some of the mystery! Each session may look slightly different, these are the main areas that are considered when your speech therapist is planning sessions for your child and get covered each week.
At the start of therapy and at certain points throughout your child’s therapy journey, your therapist will talk with you about scheduling time to plan goals with you for your child. This team approach is so important as we know that you are the expert in your child and you can see where they need the most support. Our peediatric speech pathologist therapist can then help break down this long term goal into smaller steps for your child to work on each session.
During your session, your therapist will also go through any of your child’s reports and letters with you so you have opportunity to ask questions and discuss the information.
Review the week
Your therapist will touch base with you at the start of a session to see how your week has been. This is an opportunity to discuss what activities have been completed for homework and how your child went with them as well as a time to check in with what has gone on during the week (the good and the challenging – we want to help work through those bumps!). This catch up at the start of the session is crucial for progression with a goal, particularly when it comes to problem solving with homework!
See how your child is progressing with their goal
Your therapist will give your child the opportunity to show how they are developing with their goal. This means that we can work at the level that is just right for your child or even move on to a new goal if they have consolidated the skill.
Once we know where to start – this is where the hands on therapy begins! We LOVE having parents involved in the therapy – it will help build your confidence with activities you and your child can complete for homework and it’s a great time to spend connecting with and being a part of helping your child build there independence. Some children benefit from structure in their sessions, a visual schedule may be used to help them know what is going to happen in the session and give them choice in what activities they are going to play with.
Child led vs. adult led
We know that children learn the best when they are engaged, motivated and having fun. Something your therapist will discuss with you is the concept of child led vs. adult led therapy. This concept is a scale. The child led side of the scale is where the child chooses the playful learning experiences (games and activities), and the adults are in control during adult led play. Some children need more child led therapy, some need a mix of both child and adult led therapy, some children can participate in adult led therapy, and some move along the scale within the session. There is no right or wrong, the most important thing is that we meet the child with what they need during the session so they are engaged and learning.
Games – why do we use them in therapy?
Similar to the reasoning behind child led therapy, the research tells us that children learn when they are playing. To play is their main job. During the act of play children are exploring, taking risks, engaging their imagination, and solving problems. They are learning valuable skills that support social, physical and cognitive development. Studies show that play promotes a child’s literacy and language development. During preschool years, a child’s vocabulary grows and develops significantly and play-based learning encourages conversations to occur in a natural way. Even participating in individual play-based learning encourages language and communication. Children will often speak to themselves while playing or narrate the toys they are playing with, even acting out multiple sides of a conversation. This is why your speech pathologist will incorporate your child’s therapy goal into play/games. This not only keeps your child engaged, it also means that they are more likely to use the skill that they are developing in their every day lives.
Sensory and movement breaks are often interchangeable, but they are separate strategies that help keep a child in the best place for learning. A movement break is where we give a child the opportunity to move their little bodies – children have shorter attention spans than adults and it is totally age appropriate for them to need to move, so why not do it proactively! In a therapy session, this might look like incorporating movement into a goal such as a running race, jumping on target words, hide and seek activities.
A sensory break is when we incorporate activities that give extra feedback to the senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, balance etc.). This might look like a sensory cushion on their chair, activities that include lifting/pushing/pulling, fidget toy, kinetic sand etc. The outcome of sensory breaks is the same as movement breaks; it gives your child the opportunity to stay primed for learning.
The last thing you will do in a session is discuss your child’s progress and plan out some activities that are at the optimum level of the goal that they are working on for you to complete during the week.