In my first “Getting Off the Treatment Treadmill” post, I shared with you some general tips to fix up some common problems with therapy homework: eg. tasks being boring, unrewarding or irrelevant to the child. But perhaps you just have a highly ACTIVE child, who dislikes sitting down to table-top activities. Well, this post is for you.
As the mother of 3 young, active boys, I “get” this problem! And below are some ideas for getting active while doing therapy.
1: Get the “energy” out first
Before sitting down for a book, speech therapy homework or any activity which requires sitting still, some children benefit from a period of intense activity, such as running, trampolining or bouncing on a fit ball. There’s a wonderful song called “Shake My Sillies Out”, which is an active song you could sing and dance along to, before your sit-down activity. The song helps your child to get out some of their energy, and to expect that they will sit down quietly for a length of time after the song finishes.
2: Time the “inactive” activities well.
A child’s activity level will fluctuate through the day. Choose to read books and to play less active, language-enriching games during your child’s less active times of day.
3: Fun In the Park
Push your child several times on a swing, catch the swing, have your child say a word (perhaps a few times), then resume pushing. Play on the slide. When your child is sitting at the top of the slide put your arm across the top of the slide in front of him and say “stop”. Have him say a practice word after you. Lift your arm, say “go” and let him slide down.
4: Move to the Card
Scatter cards with the pictures, letters or words around a room or outside. Have your child run or hop or skip to a card. Let your child pick what type of physical movement she wants to do to go get the cards. The child says the word on the card (perhaps a few times), then runs, hops or skips back to you. If she says the word three more times, then she can put the card into a basket, box or bag. Do this for all the cards.
5: Ball Games
Throw or bounce a ball back and forth, practicing a word each time before the ball is thrown. You can also play basketball, allowing him to throw a ball through the hoop after saying a word. My game of “throw the beanbag into the nest” is very popular with young children. They generally have to say a word 3-5 times before attempting to throw the beanbag into the nests.
Hide the cards and let your child search for them, one at a time. When he finds one, he says the word (perhaps a few times), then brings it back to you. He tells you the word, then goes to find another card. You can swap roles so that he hides the cards and you search for them. When you bring a card back to him you both must say the word. You can play this game inside or in the garden.
7: Obstacle Course
Make an obstacle course with a word card for each obstacle. For example: have a large cardboard box lying on its side, that is open on both ends that the child can climb through, a chair she can crawl under, a wrapping paper roll she can jump over, a pillow she can roll over, etc. She has to say the word on the card before attempting each obstacle.
8: “Red Light-Green Light”
This is a fun game to play with several children. The children line up across the lawn from you. The object is to be the first one to arrive at the base (you) without getting caught. You turn your back and say “green light,” at which time the children can take big steps toward you. When you say “red light” they must stop moving completely before you turn around. Anyone caught moving has to go back to the starting line. Each person must say a speech practice word before you can turn around to say “green light” to resume the game.
9: Song and dance
Does your child love singing and dancing? Dance along to language-rich songs, such as Playschool or Wiggles music on CD. Encourage singing along to the words by singing along yourself. Develop his understanding of words by doing the actions and pretending to be the characters in the songs. Incorporating your goals into music can be tricky, so speak to your therapist for ideas if you think your child will really respond well to this.
Tune in to Part 3 of my “Getting Off the Treatment Treadmill” for more homework ideas.
Thanks to Robin Strode, M.A., CCC-SLP for contributing to some of these game ideas.
Disclaimer: This advice is not intended to replace the recommendations of a Speech Pathologist for an individual with a communication impairment. If you have concerns about your child’s speech and language development, please contact a Speech Pathologist. Early detection and early intervention works.