Avoiding Power Struggles in Speech Home Practice

As SLPs, we know the importance of home practice to provide enough opportunities for repetition of target sounds to promote motor learning. The challenge lies in making home practice fun for kids and low stress for parents. No one wins when attempting speech homework ends in a power struggle. Luckily, research has backed up the benefits of distributed practice, which means that practicing for shorter amounts of time across a number of sessions is beneficial for speech learning.

How does this translate into home practice? Take the burden off of parents to try to engage their child for a full 20 or 30 minutes while slogging through a stack of word lists, and instead focus on small bursts of practice, no more than about 5 minutes. By working in small batches, kids get distributed practice opportunities over time. Read on for a few more ideas for how to make home practice successful.

1. Make sure home practice is easy for kids. Encourage activities that are a step lower on the artic hierarchy, so if the child is at word level, have them practice syllables at home.

2. Think of reminders for distributed practice. Maybe it’s a sign on the refrigerator and every time the child goes into the kitchen with a caregiver, they do five repetitions of their target.

3. Help families think through the best time and place for speech homework. Is it driving to swimming practice on Tuesdays and ballet on Fridays? Every night after brushing teeth? Talk through their schedule to help identify a good way to build speech into already busy routines.

We’ve created Articulation Drill Game as a way to provide practice opportunities for /r/. Kids get to watch animations as they repeat syllables to help keep them motivated. The app records these syllables to build a database of /r/ productions. Here at Verboso, we want to gamify speech therapy and use machine learning to provide automatic reinforcement of correct productions. Imagine how much fun home practice could be if it involved playing video games! The app will automatically handle parental consent for completing the recording and has been approved for adhering to children’s privacy laws. Plus, the /r/ database will be available to researchers who want to create automatic speech recognition technology. Check out Articulation Drill Game on the App Store (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/articulation-drill-game/id1468947925) and coming soon for Android!

Strand, E. A. (1995, May). Treatment of motor speech disorders in children. In Seminars in Speech and Language (Vol. 16, No. 02, pp. 126-139). © 1995 by Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc..