Special Education

Back-to-School Speech Therapy Tips

Whether students are returning after a long summer vacation or after the winter holidays, there is always something invigorating about back-to-school preparations. It’s one of the best parts about being a school speech therapist.

Of course, getting back into the swing of a daily schedule isn’t all fun. Working as a school SLP has its challenges.

Making plans and incorporating some new tools into your usual lineup will help make the transition more enjoyable for everyone.

The Role of a Speech-Language Pathologist in Schools

SLPs fill a variety of important roles in schools. They collaborate with teachers inside the classroom and work with SLP assistants to provide services directly to students. The most crucial role of speech-language pathologist is to support the academic success and social well-being of their students.

An SLP is an essential member of the education team. In addition to working directly with students, speech-language pathologist duties include:

  • Assessing and diagnosing communication disorders
  • Contributing to educational goal setting
  • Designing programs to meet student needs
  • Ensuring school curriculum is accessible for students
  • Tracking paperwork and deadlines for state, federal, and district mandates
  • Collaborating with teachers and other staff on best communication practices
  • Advocating for student needs

Working with students to strengthen their tongues and speaking muscles is impactful. A school speech therapist helps students thrive in school, and their work will also support students’ academic, social, and emotional successes for the rest of their lives.

Back-to-School Speech Therapy Tips

One of the most useful back-to-school tips for a school speech therapist is to start preparing early. Get ready to have the most products and stress free year with these tips.

Prepare Speech Therapy Activities

Group activities are always a great way to break the ice and engage children, but not every activity appeals to all age groups.

Try these speech therapy activities for elementary students:

  1. Vocabulary Scavenger Hunt: Children explore the classroom for vocabulary words on index cards. Once found, the students must pronounce and define the word before they can claim it.
  2. Hopscotch Words: Make a traditional hopscotch grid (you can use blue painter’s tape on the floor) and fill each square with a different word instead of a number. Students are so busy having fun that they don’t realize they are practicing pronunciation.
  3. I Spy: Everyone’s favorite car game can be adapted to the classroom to help with sentence fluency. The person who makes the correct guess must use the item’s name in a sentence before starting their turn.

Speech therapy activities for middle school students include:

  1. Word Search Puzzles: When students find a word, they must say it aloud. The first one to complete their puzzle wins a prize or privilege.
  2. Opposites: Make a list of words that have clear (but not too simple) opposites. One student will read the list to their partner, who will say the opposite word aloud. This game helps teach speaking in turn and word-finding skills.
  3. Sound It Out: This game helps you and your students target specific sounds. Choose a letter, such as “s,” and ask students to take turns making up sentences filled with words that feature that sound.

Consider these speech therapy activities for high school students:

  1. Communication Practice: It may seem like they’re just chatting, but allowing a small group of students to talk about a movie, video game, or current event is a good exercise for practicing sentence fluency and speaking in turn.
  2. Free Writing: Many teens already enjoy keeping a journal, and writing helps improve language comprehension and production. Provide a list of writing prompts and have students write stream-of-consciousness style for five to ten minutes.
  3. Name Ten: This game lets students practice word finding and pronunciation in a fun and slightly competitive way. Choose categories that are relevant to your students, such as music or movies, and have them name ten things that fit into those categories. 

Sticking with projects geared toward your students’ age group will boost participation and interest.

Buy Your Speech Therapy School Supplies

Making sure to have the right speech therapy supplies on hand is a major part of an SLP’s back-to-school duties. The more thought you put into activity planning, the easier it will be to buy the necessary supplies. Some of the most useful and versatile items to have in your supply closet include:

  • Dry-erase sleeves so you can use worksheets multiple times
  • Brown paper bags for mystery bag activities
  • Fun and colorful writing supplies, like gel or glitter pens
  • Wordless books for “build-your-own-vocabulary” stories
  • Paper plates
  • Index cards
  • Stickers

Like all educators, a school speech therapist can never have enough basic supplies on hand. To help with budgeting, check the dollar store for paper supplies and fun extras.

Plan Speech Therapy Lessons

School speech therapists don’t always get as much time with students as they’d like, so an SLP must have well-organized lesson plans. When creating a lesson plan, consider the following areas:

  • Therapy goals
  • Topics such as literacy-based therapy
  • Books and materials for the best student engagement
  • In-class SLP games and activities

Lastly, remember to prepare resources for your speech therapy lesson plans. You can save time and supplies by creating an adaptable lesson-plan template.

Stay Up to Date with Other School-Based SLPs

Staying current on new research in the field of school-based SLP will help you and your students stay motivated. Subscribe to professional newsletters to stay up to date on new techniques and improve your skills. Your school district or state may have local associations to connect with. Also, consider membership in national organizations like the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) for professional networking.

Closing Thoughts

Working as a school speech-language pathologist is a rewarding and challenging career. SLPs can use creativity and personal innovation to make lessons more fun and accessible. If you’re considering a career change and would like information about school speech-language pathologist jobs in your area, contact Sunbelt Staffing today.