Pacing during a treatment session can be crucial in maintaining a child’s attention and focus. The easiest way to do this is using a schedule and a pattern of an opening and closing activity. Using a timer to go off five minutes before the end of a session can help you have closure to the session. Closure is important as it gives you a chance to once again speak about the focus of the session.
I use folders with the student’s work in it including attendance and the student’s personal goal. When they come in they get their folders and head to the treatment table. The student’s personal goal is a breakdown of their IEP goal written in a way that the student understands and is really more of a short-term objective. The student has picked out a picture that they like to go with this personal goal. We begin by them taking out their goal and attendance. We then do a listening set which is done with them pointing to and reciting the rhyme about listening rules.
The schedule for the day is reviewed and sometimes I will use a timer to mark the different parts of the lesson (ex. we will do vocabulary for 10 minutes then move on to our story). Having a schedule is often not enough for the student but they also need to have how much work or how much time each part of the lesson might take especially if it is one that is cognitively challenging. When I make my lesson plan I try to calculate how much time each activity will take. If it takes longer I might forgo another activity and leave it for the next session. If it goes quicker than I thought I might add more repetitions, expand the topic or have the apply the knowledge to a new situation.
I believe in a multi-sensory approach so I look for ways during the lesson that I can get the student’s moving. We might act out the vocabulary, or see a clip related to the theme or story, or use white boards to record our answers or write sentences.
Motivation is always a key component and that will be different based on the age, ability and frankly,sometimes just what else has happened in the child’s day. Here is a great article on motivationTips for keeping kids motivated in speech therapy: a Speechbuddy blog.
If you start to see a pattern in behavior ( ex. child always needs to go to the bathroom, or the child has a hard time leaving a favorite activity) you then need to establish how you will behave when faced with this. So for the example about the child going to the bathroom have them go right before the session if you are in the schools when you pick them up tell them to go to the bathroom first. If a child is focused on a particular material incorporate that material into the session so for example if a preschool child has difficulty leaving car play have the child either drive the car into a parking lot with the sound card you want them to articulate or have the name of the car be a word they are practicing. Here are some other great ideas for articulation using simple materials. There is one activity described that talks about hiding pennies however for the little boy with the car obsession it could be cars instead of pennies. http://www.home-speech-home.com/articulation-games.html by Lindsey.
I end with an exit question. These I usually determine from what has gone on during the session so it might be a vocabulary word that we have reviewed or the name of a character from the story etc. It allows me to review what we did and reinforce the concepts. I then have the students put their materials away as soon as they have answered their questions which alleviates a crowd at the file folders bookcase.
How do you arrange your session so that the student’s are motivated throughout?