By: Amanda Bird, M.A., CCC-SLP
With the constant to-do lists, meetings, errands, and appointments, it may seem nearly impossible to fit in some home practice of your child’s therapy goals. We understand! However, the benefits may make you reconsider putting it on the back burner. Read on to find out some of the reasons and recommendations for practicing these skills outside of the session:
1. Targeting goals outside of therapy will help your child generalize: If your child implements practice of their goals across environmental contexts (e.g., home, school, community), their progress is more likely to be seen not just within the treatment space, but in their many other daily and functional environments.
2. “Practice makes perfect:” While the therapy room is a fundamental space in targeting your child’s goals, an increase in practice frequency will likely promote quicker gains. Think of the therapy session as an excellent place of learning the strategies and approaches to targeting your child’s goals, and talk with your child’s therapist about how to appropriately and safely practice these at home.
3. Satisfaction of success: As a therapist, seeing a child master or make progress on a goal brings great joy and satisfaction to the entire team (including the child!). Across disciplines, when a child acheives their goal, their own confidence and motivation can blossom. Promoting practice in the home will help the child see the importance of therapy and practice, and how it will help them not only at the clinic, but in school or home.
4. Make it easy, functional, and fun: Ask your therapist for home exercise programs that can be implemented that are realistic and plausible given your schedule, availability, home equipment, etc. Targeting goals at home does not need to be an overly time consuming or laborous task. Have your child target articulation goals while in the car, gross motor goals while at the playground on the weekend, or fine motor goals while making fun crafts or holiday cards for loved ones.
5. Stay in the know, share what you know: By helping your child target their goals at home, it allows for parents to truly understand what strategies work well for their child in the most functional contexts. No one knows your child better than you, and your own observations at home are very important to share with your therapist. Therapy is dynamic, and should adapt and change based on how your child adapts and changes.
Have any home exercise program ideas that worked well for you and your child? Share with us or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.