“Do I have to do this f-o-r-e-v-e-r?” groaned Johnny. “We have to do that again?” whined Susie. Do you ever hear anything like this? Even though I find most students enjoy coming to “speech”, they don’t want to work on the same goal with no end in sight. Who does, right?
If they have a finish line, a true goal, they can see how far they have come and how far they have left to go. It’s pretty basic, really. But what a difference it can make! I have seen dramatic improvements in how willing the children are to keep working at their goals and how quickly they meet them when they have a specific goal that they can see and a reward at the end!
One client, who had been working on his “er” sound for what seemed like forever, quickly met his goal of 80% accuracy at the word level and maintained it for three sessions. He then progressed through “ar” words and “or” words. Sometimes he even asked if we could “do more words” so that he could bring his percentage up! What caused this change? A simple chart that gave him a finish line and an inexpensive reward (e.g., a Matchbox type car that cost less than $1). He knew that when he reached 80% three times, he earned a reward.
The progress chart has some other benefits, too. It serves as a great visual representation to show parents and teachers how the child is doing, and it helps the speech-language pathologist know it’s time to move on to the next goal.
So, give your clients a target to aim for. Let them realize that they are in control of how quickly or slowly they meet their goals. Find something motivating for them and watch them soar!
Of course, using this chart requires that you to track progress using data. If you don’t already keep data on your clients because it may seem overwhelming or be too much of a hassle, read my post about simple ways to keep data.
Happy New Year!