Preschoolers are movers and shakers! Sometimes keeping their attention for the duration of a preschool speech therapy session can be challenging. Try these 10 Tips to keep your students engaged and learning for your entire therapy session!
1) Use a Visual Schedule: While this doesn't work for all kids, it works for many! Children do well when they know what to expect. Have the schedule ready prior to the session and review the schedule when the child enters the room. Alternatively, if your student likes to be in charge, you can create the schedule together!
2) Follow Their Lead: Following the child's lead doesn't mean that the child is running the session - it means that the activities are meaningful and motivating for the child. Think about what your student enjoys and try to plan activities around their interests. Children learn better when they are having fun!
3) Offer Choices: Present a variety of activities and let the student choose. For example, have two puzzles or two stories to choose from.
4) MOVE!: Preschoolers are not built to sit. Try to incorporate movement into your sessions. Ideas include treasure hunts, dancing, role-playing games, hopscotch, and Simon Says. You can incorporate movement directly into your therapy activities or provide Movement Breaks. Try to give movement breaks BEFORE your student needs them. When you see them squirming around, it's time for a break! Looking for some movement activities for your sessions? Check out my Find, Feed, and Move and Gross Motor Repetitive Stories.
5) BREAK CARD: A break card provides students with appropriate break options. Therapy can be really hard for these little ones! It's normal for preschoolers to want a break. Have the break card available at all times. Children are more likely to complete a task if they know they can have a break if they need it. Check out the break card (and other visuals) included in my HUGE Behavior and Language Visuals set.
6) Use the Right Amount of Cues: If a child is reluctant to participate in an activity, it may be that the task is too hard. You might want to consider increasing your cues. You can use visual cues, modeling the correct answer, verbal cues, and multiple-choice cues.
7) Keep Little Hands Busy: Preschoolers aren't going to sit and listen for 30 minutes. They need something to keep them busy! Consider using 'hands-on' preschool speech therapy activities, such as playdough, toys, and games. Looking for a fun "hands-on' play-based activities to use with your entire caseload? Check out Puppies and Playdough and my Interactive Adventure Stories Bundle.
8) Be at their Level: There is something about getting down on the floor with a child that makes them instantly connect with you. Connection = engagement. Don't be afraid to get eye-to-eye with your little ones.
9) Be Entertaining: Think of some fun and creative ways to teach. If we are having fun - our students will have fun. Songs, dances, and silly props are sure ways to keep your students engaged.
10) Be Flexible: Sometimes things don't go as planned and that's okay! Have a variety of activities planned, in case things go sideways. Don't be set on doing a particular activity for X amount of time, if the child is obviously not engaged after 2 minutes. Nobody will win!
What other tips do you have for keeping preschoolers engaged in speech therapy?