Child Won’t Be Getting Speech Therapy During the Summer?

Good afternoon, everyone. Speech-language pathologist/momma here. If you don’t know yet, I’m a speech-language pathologist in the school system. Most of my therapy students do not receive speech-language therapy services through the summer and if they do, it is not through the school system. As a parent, you are most likely saying “Why?!?!” In this post, I’m going to explain the why and what you can do to continue helping your child make progress towards their speech and/or language goals.

So, Why?

I’m going to explain why by relaying a conversation with a parent I had from another school district:

Parent: My little girl has a lot of sounds she is saying wrong. I asked the school to provide speech therapy to her through the summer and they said they couldn’t. Is that true?

Me: Did they say anything else?

Parent: No, they just said they weren’t allowed to.

Me: Yes, it’d be great if she could get therapy through the summer, but the only way she could speech therapy at school through the summer is if her progress backslid, say, last summer. Does her speech get worse over the summer?

Parent: I don’t think so, but it doesn’t get better either. She has a lot of sounds she still says wrong.

Me:  Gotcha. SLPs in the school system are paid to work a certain number of school days a year. If a student receives speech therapy over the summer through the school system, the district would have to pay the SLP more. I know that sounds horrible, but can you take her to an outpatient therapist this summer?

Ya’ll, like I said, it sounds horrible, but that’s the ugly truth. As time goes on, it seems like money in school districts becomes more and more scarce, all while the need for those services continues to increase.

IT DOESN’T MEAN YOUR CHILD HAS TO WAIT ALL SUMMER

No, sorry, I don’t mean I have a loophole for you so you can get summer speech therapy services for your child! What I DO mean is YOU do NOT need to underestimate your abilities to help your child continue making progress. THINK ABOUT IT. Think of all the things you have taught your child. What did they ALREADY know when they started school because of YOU? Maybe you had already taught your child their colors and shapes. Maybe YOU had already helped them to learn to recognize some letters and numbers. Maybe they started preschool and YOU had already potty trained them. Maybe YOU had already helped them recognize their name or count to a certain number. YOU had already taught your child things they need to know to help them function and be successful and chances are, you’re not a teacher or a child development specialist. Point is, YOU taught them because you had the ability to do so. Maybe you googled along the way, (just like me!), but so what? You learned and you did it.

So Why Did I Just Deliver the Long, Hopefully MOTIVATIONAL Speech?

Because YOU CAN actively improve your child’s speech and language skills. In college, they taught me how to diagnose and treat a very wide range of speech and langue delays and disorders. I learned how to actually DO it, by DOING it. So how about I teach YOU how to DO it, so you can wow your child’s school speech-language pathologist when school resumes this fall? Does your child attend school year round? Doesn’t matter. Either way, you’re going to accelerate your child’s progress.

Step #1

This is a wordy step, but that’s all it is! Wordy.

Find out what speech therapy goals your child was working on when school ended. Email, Facebook (Private Message!!), whatever have you, your child’s school speech-language pathologist. Here’s what you need to find out:

  • What sound your child was working on at the end of the school year
  • What position of the word were they working on (beginning, middle, or end)
  • What level they were working on for that sound (isolation, syllable, words, phrases, etc. See the “Levels” below)

Step #2

Make your child aware (if they are younger, as aware as possible) of what their goal(s) is/are. This step is SO important! If your child knows what is expected of them, not only will it improve their self-monitoring skills, but it will increase their motivation because they are being presented with a challenge. My student’s love tracking their progress. If you want to see those goal pages, you can do so HERE.

Please see this post if your child needs some motivation: What to Do if Your Child Is STILL Attending Speech-Language Therapy?

Step #3

During Step #1, what did you find out about what goal they were working on when the school year ended? Follow the sequence below for the sound(s) you are going to target. If your child masters the “syllables” level, for example, then they need to move on to “words” level. I am going to use “k” as an example. There is no timeline in regards to how long it should take your child to master each level in the following sequence. If it takes a few days or several weeks, that’s okay! FYI: Many speech-language pathologists, including myself, follow this sequence with our therapy clients/students that work on speech sounds because we need some sort of structure that allows us to track each client/student’s progress. We’re really good at making it fun, so make it fun!

 Isolation
*See Step #4 if your child has not mastered this level*

saying the sound all by itself (i.e. k-k-k-k-k)

Syllables
ka, kee, ki, ko, koo, ku

Word Level
So what position of the word (beginning, middle, or end) was your  child working on at the end of the school year?
*Don’t forget to target the sound in every position of the word (beginning “cup”, middle “baking”, end “bake”) I personally like to target one position at a time. Once my child/student has mastered that position, then I will move on to another position

Phrase Level
Don’t forget the word positions (beginning, middle, end)!
“a black hat (end)”  “in a cave (beginning)”  “making food (middle)”

 Sentence Level
Don’t forget the word positions!
“I see a black hat”   “The bear is in a cave”   “I am making dinner.”

    Structured Conversation Level
Choose certain times of the day for your child to practice using the “k” correctly during conversation. For example, you could say, “Sam, I want you to use your “k” sound the right way on the way to the grocery store” or “Sarah, I want you to try to use your “k” sound correctly the whole time we are eating breakfast.” Over time, increase your child’s structured conversation times to longer periods or more frequently through the day. Remind your child as needed to use their sound correctly.

Unstructured Conversation Level
The goal of this level is for your child to use the sound correctly without any reminders. No matter who they’re with, where they’re at, or how they’re feeling.

Step #4

If Your Child Does Is Not Able to Say the Sound in Isolation

Directly teach your child how to produce a sound correctly. (See “Step #4 Cont. – Phonological Processes” if your child is working on a phonological process, such as final consonant deletion or glottal stopping) (Maybe they can already do this – it all depends on the information you found out from Step #1) When you are teaching any sound, a great method is to stand in front of a mirror alongside your child, tell your child to watch your mouth as you say a sound, then ask your child to imitate. This is going to be a long list because I don’t want to leave anything out, so just find the target sound you are going to work on in the list below. “Verbal cue” is something you say to your child. “Visual cue” is something you do that your child can see. PICK JUST ONE VERBAL CUE AND ONE VISUAL CUE!! CONSISTENCY is key! That way if you use a verbal or visual cue, your child knows EXACTLY what they need to do.

****FYI**** Cool thing about visual cues is you can cue your child to use their target sound correctly without having to actually interrupt them while they are speaking.

        Sound
Production                  Mouth Movement             Verbal Cue                      Visual Cue

P Hold your child’s hand in front of your mouth so they can feel the air and/or use your fingers to open and close your child’s lips Pop your lips
Make the popping sound
Pretend to pop bubbles or move your fingers up and down like popcorn
M Use your fingers to hold your child’s lips together and/or place your child’s hand on your throat while you make the sound so they can feel the vibration Make the yummy sound Lick your lips or rub your belly
B Use your fingers to open and close your child’s lips and/or place your child’s hand on your throat while you make the sound so they can feel the vibration Make the fish sound (a fish makes the “b” sound when they blow bubbles) Make a fish face
W Use your fingers to open and close your child’s lips Make the windy sound Move your hands back and forth like the wind is blowing
CH Have your child place their tongue approx. ¼  – ½ inch behind their front teeth (can use peanut butter where their tongue should touch behind their front teeth as a placement cue) and make their lips into a rounded box shape and open their mouth slightly each time they make the sound Make the train sound Pull your arm like you are making a train whistle blow 
SH Have your child place their tongue approx. ¼ – ½ inch behind their front teeth (can use peanut butter where their tongue should touch behind their front teeth as a placement cue) and make their lips into a rounded box shape Make the quiet sound Put your finger to your lips like you are shushing someone
J Have your child place their tongue approx. ¼ – ½ inch behind their front teeth (can use peanut butter where their tongue should touch behind their front teeth as a placement cue) and make their lips into a rounded box shape and/or have your child place their hand on your throat so they can feel the vibration each time you say the sound Make the jumping sound Jump your fingers up and down
T Have your child place their tongue tip directly behind their front teeth and, if needed, you can place your finger under their tongue and move their tongue up and down repeatedly so their tongue tip taps repeatedly behind their front teeth Tap your tongue Lightly tap your hand on your arm or table
D Have your child place their tongue tip directly behind their front teeth and, if needed, you can place your finger under their tongue and move their tongue up and down repeatedly so their tongue tip taps repeatedly behind their front teeth and/or have your child touch your throat to feel the vibrations while you make the sound Hard tap your tongue Firmly tap your hand on your arm or table
N Have your child place their tongue tip directly behind their front teeth and hold it there (can use peanut butter as a placement cue) and if needed, hold their tongue tip there  with your finger while they use their voice and/or have them place their fingers lightly on your nose so they can feel the vibration in your nose while you say the sound Make the nose sound Point to your nose
L Have your child place their tongue tip directly behind their front teeth and hold it there (can use peanut butter as a placement cue) and if needed, hold their tongue tip there  with your finger while they use their voice Lift your tongue or use your tongue lifter Lift your hand up in the air
S Have your child place their tongue behind their bottom teeth and then pull their lips back in a smile and tell them to “hide their tongue behind their teeth” Hide your tongue or smiley s Point to your mouth while you give a “toothy grin”
Z Have your child place their tongue behind their bottom teeth and then pull their lips back in a smile and tell them to “hide their tongue behind their teeth” and/or have them place their hand on your throat to feel the vibrations while you make the sound Make the sleeping sound or make the bee sound Pretend to sleep or place your thumb and pointer finger together while you pretend they are buzzing around
F Have your child place their top teeth on their bottom lip to make it look like they are biting their lip and blow air out Make windy lips Point to your mouth while you bite your lip
V Have your child place their top teeth on their bottom lip to make it look like they are biting their lip and/or have them place their hand on your throat to feel the vibrations while you make the sound Make the car sound Pretend you are steering a car
Voiceless TH (think, bath, thought) Have your child place their tongue between their teeth and blow out Make a windy tongue Stick your tongue between your teeth
Voiced TH (Then, that, father) Have your child place their tongue between their teeth and/or have them place their hand on your throat to feel the vibrations while you make the sound Make a tickly tongue Stick your tongue between your teeth and touch your throat
K Have your child place their tongue below their bottom teeth (use peanut butter if necessary for proper placement) and touch the back of their tongue to the back of their mouth. If they keep wanting to flip their tongue up, have them open their mouth very wide while they do this or you can press your finger on their tongue tip to hold proper placement Push your button down or make a coughing sound Make a coughing sound
G Have your child place their tongue below their bottom teeth (use peanut butter if necessary for proper placement) and touch the back of their tongue to the back of their mouth. If they keep wanting to flip their tongue up, have them open their mouth very wide while they do this or you can press your finger on their tongue tip to hold proper placement and/or have them place their hand on your throat to feel the vibrations while you make the sound Make a fish sound Make a fish face
Y Have your child bite gently on the sides of their tongue. If they try to flip their tongue tip up causing a sound distortion, have them place their tongue tip below their bottom teeth. Show them how their mouth should open each time they make the “y” sound Make the yes sound or Make the yo-yo sound Nod your head or pretend you are playing with a yo-yo
H Have your child put their tongue tip against their bottom teeth and blow out with an open mouth and/or have your child hold their hand in front of your mouth so they can feel your breath as you blow out Make the huffing sound Huff like you are tired
Q Have your child place their tongue below their bottom teeth (use peanut butter if necessary for proper placement) and touch the back of their tongue to the back of their mouth. If they keep wanting to flip their tongue up, have them open their mouth very wide while they do this or you can press your finger on their tongue tip to hold proper placement and then have them round their lips (k+w sound combined) Make the “q” sound Prentend to place a crown on your head
R Placement directions are on an individual basis. Some people say their “r” sound correctly by curling their tongue tip up on the roof of their mouth (tongue tip curler), while others pull their tongue back with the tongue tip touching or almost touching the roof of their mouth approximately halfway back from the front of their mouth (mountain tongue). You are predestined to say your “r” a certain way at birth. A tongue tip curler “r” is cut and dry. Directions for “mountain tongue” kids are pull your tongue back until your can feel your back teeth scraping on the sides of your tongue and the tip of your r Do your tongue tip curler or mountain tongue Palm up, curl your fingers or palm down and make a mountain shape with your hand
A, E, I, O, U Easiest way to teach these sounds is to simple have your child watch your mouth as you say them. If needed, use your fingers to help shape your child’s mouth opening (i.e. “a” is a box shape and “o” is a more rounded shape) Make the __ sound

Step #4 Continued – Phonological Processes

Directly teach your child how to produce a word correctly. In this section, I’m going to discuss the most common phonological process issues children have. Is your child exhibiting Final Consonant Deletion (FCD), which is where they leave the last sound off of words (i.e. “do” instead of “doG)? How about glottal stopping, where they might say “coo-ie” instead of “cookie?” The “oo” part will sound like they stopped the sound very suddenly. Do they exhibit syllable deletion/reduction where words with 2 or more syllables is pronounced with one syllable, such as “puter” for “computer?”

     Phonological             Teaching Correct              Verbal Cue                      Visual Cue
         Process                       Productions

Final Consonant Deletion Get several blocks or any kind of similarly shaped objects. If you have a train with detachable parts, that would be great, or any other toy that has a defined beginning and end. Say words that have ending sounds such as, “dog, cat, fish, rug.” Do NOT choose words that end in vowel sounds, such as, “Sue, bow, lie.” If you are using blocks, line all the blocks up and let your child watch you pick up the last block from the line. While you say “dog,” place the last block in the line at the same time you make the “g” sound in “dog.” If you are using a train, for example, you will do the same thing, but you will place the caboose on the train at the same time you make the “g” sound in “dog.”

 

       AND/OR

 

Buy some cheap alphabet letters and if you say the word “dog,” overemphasize the “g” sound while you place the “g” letter at the end of the word. If your child says “do” instead of “dog,” place the letters “d” and “o” together, say the word correctly, while overemphasizing the “g” sound while placing the “g” letter at the end of the word.  I suggest alphabet letters because being able to actually “touch the sounds,” really helps children make the connection of, “Hey, another sound belongs there!”

“Put the last sound on” or “Put the caboose on” Pretend to pick something up and place it down (like you’re picking up a block or caboose and setting it down)
Syllable Deletion Hold your child’s hand and tap it on their knee or a hard surface while saying a 2/3/4 syllable word. For example, if you say “pancake,” tap your child’s hand at the same time you say “pan” and then tap again when you say “cake.”

 

         AND/OR

 

Have your child pretend their arm and hand is a windshield wiper and each time they say a syllable part, they will wave their arm to the left, and back to the right at the same time they say the next syllable part. For example, for the word “bathroom,” they would “wipe” their arm to the left at the same time they say “bath” and back to the right at the same time they say “room.”

“Put all the parts in” or “Windshield wiper.” Move your arm in a windshield wiping motion.
Glottal Stopping Get several blocks or any kind of similarly shaped objects. If you have a train with 3 detachable parts, that would be great. Say words that are 2 syllables long. If you are using blocks, line all the blocks up and let your child watch you pick up the middle block from the line. While you say “cookie,” place the middle block in the line at the same time you make the “k” sound in “cookie.” If you are using a train, for example, you will do the same thing, but you will place the middle on the train at the same time you make the “k” sound in “cookie.”

 

       AND/OR

 

Buy some cheap alphabet letters and if you say the word “cookie,” overemphasize the “k” sound while you place the “k” letter at the end of the word. If your child says “coo-ie” instead of “cookie,” place all the letters correctly EXCEPT for the “k” and then say the word correctly, while overemphasizing the “k” sound while placing the “k” letter at the end of the word. I suggest alphabet letters because being able to actually “touch the sounds,” really helps children make the connection of, “Hey, another sound belongs there!”

“Put all the sounds in.” Pretend to pick something up and place it down (like you’re picking up a block or caboose and setting it down)

I know this was a lot of information to sift through, and it was specifically for those of you whose child is working on speech. If your child is working on language goals, such as comprehension, social skills, learning colors and other basic concepts, please see my other blog posts or send me an email at the address below if you are concerned about your child not receiving language intervention this summer.

Everyday Activities to do at Home to Help Your Child Start Talking
How to Teach Your Nonverbal Child to Communicate Without Using Words
Part 1 of The Basic Language Concepts Your Child Needs and How to Teach Them at Home
Part 2 of the Basic Language Concepts Your Child Needs and How to Teach Them at Home
How to Improve Your Child’s Attention Span
How to Help Your Child Talk More
How to Improve Your Child’s Ability to Answer and Ask Questions
How to Improve Your Child’s Social Skills
The “Little Things” That May Be Hurting Your Child’s Speech and Language Development

I hope everyone finds something in here that is helpful. If you do not see something that relates to your child, please leave a comment below or email me at reachthroughspeech@outlook.com and I will do my best to create a post, no names mentioned of course, that will hopefully help your child.

Disclaimer Statement

This article was written by a speech-language pathologist, but is not meant to replace a speech-language evaluation or speech-language therapy. If your child is already receiving speech-language therapy at this time, please continue to work on improving your child’s communication at home. Therapy is so much more effective when we all work together with the same goal in mind!

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