As SLPs, we are often sneaking in mini side lessons into our sessions. Many of the children we work with are at risk for having delays in literacy skills. Hanna shares with us some ideas she is learning in graduate school to become a speech pathologist. Enjoy! ~Katie
As a speech-language pathologist, you might not be a reading or literacy specialist, but there’s no reason you can’t support the development of literacy skills with your clients while targeting your main speech and language objectives. Why even worry about literacy? As it was recently explained in my Literacy Disorders course at UW, the Matthew Effect comes into play when it comes to literacy impairments. A child who has early phonological awareness and/or pre-literacy impairments will struggle with the addition of new language skills. This in turn will result in additional literacy delays, since phonological awareness skills serve as the foundation for later reading abilities. On the other hand, children who excel in language and literacy activities will seek out further opportunities to engage in these areas. This practice and engagement will continually lead to improved skills…it’s a cycle, good or bad!
First off, here are a couple easy ways to encourage sight-word learning during any old activity in your clinic room or classroom! Start by making a word highly recognizable and salient by adding a visual cue that links to the word. Over time, fade the visual cue until only the word remains.
Here’s another idea- support phonemic awareness (the sound-level aspect of phonological awareness) during an articulation drill activity: “Let’s make everything start with the /b/ sound!” So, the sentence “The silly dog barks two times” becomes “Ba billy bog barks boo bimes.
One last idea- use dialogic reading tactics to target wh-questions, adjective awareness, pronouns, etc. AND pre-literacy development simultaneously. You can teach kids great literacy foundational skills in print knowledge (how a book/print works) during activities that target early language goals-it’s all in how you frame your activity!
Hopefully these are a few easy ways for you to integrate some basic literacy skills into your already fabulous sessions!
The HannaB GradstudentSLP blog was started in February 2012 by Hanna Bogen, a speech-language pathology graduate student at the University of Washington. The blog is a great resource for students and seasoned therapists alike with everything from iPad app reviews to fun therapy ideas (and lots of witty banter along the way). Hanna currently lives in Seattle, WA and finishes her master’s program in August 2013. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions and comments!