Are you a new SLP wondering how to plan your first speech therapy session? The cool thing about being an SLP is that we have A LOT of first sessions! So once you find your groove, you can utilize your this plan for your first session with a student for years to come! I have learned so many tips and tricks over the years. Now, I know the tools that I need to use to plan for a great first speech therapy session with new students. You can stop worrying about how to plan your first speech therapy session and try out some of the tools I use.
1. Plan Ahead
When I have a new student, I’m often working off of an eval that I didn’t complete. This could make things a little tricky because sometimes what you expect from reading the IEP isn’t what you find as soon as you meet a student. This is especially the case in preschool! So I find it works best to be prepped with some materials in a little grab and go section of my office. I try to keep articulation cards and language scenes on hand because I can target a ton of things with just those two materials. It helps with any baseline work I need to do (see #3 below!)
As hard as it can be, use the summer to get some things prepped and ready for the school year for your speech therapy sessions. A few summers ago I printed and laminated these Speech Sound Posters and Articulation Cards while I binge watched my favorite show on Netflix. When it was time to go back to school, it definitely made my life easier because they were ready to hang in my room and grab to use with students during sessions. In addition to these posters, I would absolutely recommend having some back-to-school visuals on hand for your new students.
2. Get To Know Your Students
Once you have some visuals and posters prepped, plan to get to know your students during your first speech therapy session. I like to use these Get to Know You Worksheets and Activities. I can print them out or use them digitally with google slides on an ipad for easy prep.
The different activities and worksheets definitely keep the students engaged and I can pull what I want to use easily! Students love telling me about different things such as where they live and their likes and dislikes. These Get to Know You Worksheets and Activities are really great for building rapport as well as getting a chance to naturally identify speech concerns in conversations with students as we complete these together. I usually throw them into my student files, that way if I have an SLP sub (yes, those really exist and my district had one) they can see some basic student info. Also great if you have to go out on medical/maternity leave.
3. Find their Baseline Data
Once you have built a rapport with your new students, it is time to find their baseline data for progress monitoring their speech IEP goals. For Pre-K-2nd grade students, I find these Dough and Data Mats: School Tools very helpful for gathering baseline data. These are perfect for the younger students because the Dough and Data Mats let you gather data during PLAY! My students actually have NO IDEA that I am gathering information about their speech as we play with play-doh, which is a win-win. The bonus is that most children love to use play-doh so now they think coming to speech is fun! It’s a low pressure way to get that first set of data. You want to avoid pulling out the clipboard and focusing on data collection in a way that is obvious and upsets a student.
The Dough and Data Mats target many different skills:
–Articulation (F/V, K/G, L, TH, R, S/Z, S blends, R blends, L blends)
–Vocabulary: Labeling, Concepts, Categories, Functions
–Phonological Awareness: Rhyming, Syllables, Blending, Initial Sounds
–Questions & Directions: Yes/No, Who, What, When, Where, Why, 1-step,
–Grammar and Auditory Comprehension: Grammar Observations,
Functions of Language, Listening Comprehension Story and
They are very easy prep, all you have to do is print out the play dough mats and place them in a sheet protector. Have students use the tracing outlines to create each image. All the shapes are made from long skinny rolls, meaning even students with fine motor difficulties can have success tracing these dough shapes! Then, utilize the five different data probing sheets to target the skills above!
4. Set Goals/ Tell Them Their Goals
All of the students on your caseload will have speech and language goals on their IEP. It is actually very important for students to know and understand their goals because then they can help measure their progress towards their goals. It focuses their learning and increases student ownership, even in a young preschooler. I loved using these Learning Targets for Speech and Language in my room. These posters allow you to post the skills you are targeting, are positive “I Can” statements and encourage self assessment using a thumbs up/ thumbs down image.
These Learning Targets have posters for six major areas: behavior, speech, language, social, fluency and grammar. In addition, they have skill cards with 104 learning targets for speech therapy. You can post them on your walls, make flip books for students or place them in student’s folders or binders-whatever works best for you. The behavior target poster always helped me to give students both verbal and nonverbal cues to help correct behavior in a group. “I love the way Jenna is sitting with her hands in her lap while she waits her turn. She is on target.” You can also use these with nonverbal cues; If you see a child not watching the speaker, just pull off the target on that space until the student resumes the appropriate behavior that you want to see.
5. Teach them about Speech Helpers
Now it is time to give them some tools that they can use for help during speech sessions. This Speech Helpers Mini Book & Poster Set is the perfect way to start speech therapy sessions at the beginning of the year or with a new client. This booklet explains the different speech helpers in our body. They include the brain, lungs, diaphragm, voice box/larynx, tongue, mouth, lips, ears. The text is explained in kid-friendly terminology. To make it work with each student, you can have further conversations about form and function, or even simplify it. I also like to use this with Preschool-2nd grade. The Speech Helpers Mini Book & Poster Set can be used during both in-person and teletherapy speech sessions.
Do you feel like you have the tools that you need now to plan your first speech session?
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