Adapting your therapy plan to meet curriculum needs requires flexibility and thinking on your feet. As a speech-language pathologist in private practice who works with school-aged children, I want to make sure the work we do in private sessions is relevant to what the child is working on in school. Communicating regularly with the child’s parents and teachers regarding therapy goals and classroom work helps bridge the gap between the session and the classroom. For example, I am working with a young student who struggles with writing. Just before his last session, I received a note from his parents and classroom teacher about an in-class writing assignment due the day following our session. I worked on his speech-language therapy goals of improving sentence formulation and paragraph organization within the broader functional goal of preparing him to write a draft for the first chapter of a history book for class. He used a graphic organizer to brainstorm 10 ideas, expanded those ideas into 8 coherent sentences, and then, organized the sentences in chronological order for the purpose of his school assignment. Since the student had significant difficulty recalling details and in-depth information, we did quick online research during the session to flesh out his ideas. We used Google docs on two devices simultaneously, so I could check his sentences easily and help him edit his writing. Although it was challenging to complete the assignment in under an hour, the student was successful and prepared for class.
Recently I attended a fundraiser breakfast event at the National Press Club for the non-profit group, Reading Partners. I wanted to share the good news about this wonderful and worthy group for all those interested in literacy for young children. Reading Partners pairs reading tutors with public school children in D.C. in an effort to improve their reading fluency. It has been my experience as a speech-language pathologist, specializing in the treatment of young children, that reading aloud in a 1-1 context with children is the best way to improve their decoding and comprehension skills. For example, the premise of the Read Naturally program which I have used with struggling readers for many years, is that reading aloud with a skilled reader improves fluency speed and accuracy significantly. At the Reading Partners event, powerful testimonials were given by both adults who have served as tutors and from a child who participated in the program. If you are not yet familiar with Reading Partners, check them out and consider getting involved in a very worthy cause.