Are you wondering what SLPs should do the first week of speech therapy when working in the schools?
Your schedule is done. You read through all of the IEPs. You are organized with your paperwork and deadlines. You have your cute planner ready to go. Now what?! You have to grab those speech students for the first time of the school year but what to do with them? Do you just jump in and do therapy? Do you assess goals? How do you make the time worthwhile for all? I will share with you what I do each year that seems to be effective and fun!
Show your speech students your therapy room!
I always go and pick up my speech students the very first day. I may continue depending on the student. Keep in mind I work with older ones. I might always get my younger ones. I show my students who they will be coming with from their class so they know who they should be leaving with. We walk together to my therapy room. We chit chat the way there to build some rapport so it isn't awkward. It all depends if they are new to the school or my caseload. Sometimes we are just chatting about our summers.
Once we get to my therapy room…I start right away introducing the routine of my therapy room.
Building routine in your speech therapy room
It is so important to build a routine right from the beginning. Some things to introduce:
- How should they enter in the speech room?
- What should they do if you are not there?
- Should they go right to their seats?
- Do they have assigned seats?
- Do they need to bring anything with them?
- Can they talk when they enter in the room?
- Can they ask to play a game? Will you always play games?
Those are just a few of the routines I build. See a full blog post about building routines by CLICKING HERE.
In case you were wondering….I don't make my students bring anything with them except hall passes that we make on the first day which says their speech day and time and so their classroom teachers don't have to write them passes each time. I don't make them bring anything else. I have pencils and I keep speech folders in my therapy room. I like to reference them while I lesson plan. I don't want them worrying about forgetting them back in their classrooms and going back to get them and disturbing their teachers. I also show my students a sign that I have that says “no speech go back to class” and they learn when they see that sign..speech is cancelled. I also teach them that if the light is on and the sign isn't there to just wait patiently outside and that I might have ran to the bathroom or somewhere quick. I also don't have assigned seats. In fact I make sure I have 5 of the exact same chairs so students don't fight over them. They get possessive over their “spot” but I show them that they are all the same and no names are on them for a reason!
Build Rapport With Your Speech Students
Even if you have had them before…get to know them and let them get to know you. They might have like Mindcraft last year but this year they might be all about Fortnite. Learn their interests. You will be able to tap into them later. Do icebreaker games and all about me activities. I have a freebie filled with sample activities that you can use and print and go items as well. CLICK HERE to grab it!
Help Your Speech Students Understand Why They Are There
Especially with your older ones..you want to squash the questions and comments about “why am I here?” or “Do I really have to come?” We discuss the purpose of speech, how different things can be difficult for each of us, and how I am there to help them. I always have a display in my therapy room to remind them!
We also talk about strengths and weaknesses. I tell them that I am a weak athlete, artist, and at video games. That usually resonates with many of them! They like to share that they are good at those things. I tell them that they can teach me how to draw or play a video game one day. It usually helps make them feel more comfortable in my speech room knowing that they aren't alone at having challenges. CLICK HERE to read more about some ideas you can do to work on students' strengths in speech.
I hope this post gave you a bunch of ideas of what you can do that first week of speech. Remember…get to know your students and let them get to know you. Set the stage for the rest of the year. It will be worthwhile. There is no need to jump right into therapy goals and objectives. You have all year for that! You will see more results throughout the year if you take the time to start the year off right!