I often have clients who are doing great in their therapy sessions (especially my articulation kiddos), but their parents report that they still struggle to say their sounds correctly at home. This is frustrating for everyone! However, it is important to understand why this might happen, and what we can do to help. Carryover is the term we use to describe taking a skill learned in therapy and using that skill in all communication situations.
In speech therapy, the child is learning a new skill. In the cases of kids who have a lisp or are working on R, this is especially difficult because they have had so much practice with their incorrect sound. We have to go in and correct something that has become a habit and that is hard to do! Typically in these cases, we start at the word level, then put the word in phrases, then in sentences and then in conversation. Even when we get to conversation, conversation with your speech therapist in your session may feel different than conversation at home with your family.
I am only with a child 30 minutes to an hour each week. To make their new skill more automatic, they have to practice outside of our sessions.
Some facts about carryover activities/homework:
- The child should only be practicing things at home that they have already mastered in the context of therapy. If I am working on /s/ in phrases, I would send homework for /s/ in words, because that skills has already been mastered and I feel confident that the child will be able to practice those words correctly without support. We want to avoid any additional practice of the incorrect skill.
- It can be quick! I don’t want or expect parents to spend more than 15 minutes on practice each day. We want to remind the children of their skills without causing frustration.
- It can be simple! It doesn’t have to include drills. In my homework, I like to include a variety of activities. This can be online games, a word search, a virtual field trip or even listening to a book read aloud that has lots of examples of a target sound.
The way I give homework now has completely changed since having my daughter. I know that parents have a lot on their plate! I want homework to feel manageable and easy. I like to send home a simple calendar with one activity for each day that takes 5-10 minutes. This way, parents can check that task off their to-do lists easily and move on with their busy schedules.