Struggling to fit a Speech Home Programme into your life?

So you want to help your child make steady progress towards improving his or her speech but…..

Another week has passed by and you haven’t managed to do much practice at home.

Most parents, carers and educators we work with as Speech Pathologists come to us with the very best of intentions for completing practice in between speech pathology appointments.

The truth is that very few manage to do so!

How do you fit a speech pathology home programme into your life?

If you want your child to get the most out of intervention and to work towards achieving their speech, language and communication goals…home practice is just an unavoidable ingredient in getting there.

Home practice doesn’t have to be something that both you and your child dread.

It can and should be a positive addition to your week.

Here are some tips to make it happen.

Be realistic

Start by taking a good look at your week and your ‘must do’ commitments.

Block out the times in your weekly calendar or diary where you are otherwise committed.

Now that you have a visual on your specific situation, decide how many home practice times you are going to commit to doing with your child.

Be realistic and remember that a small amount of regular, well-done home practice is a great place to start. You are more likely to be able to build upon this so start small.  Maybe look at 3 times/week and keep your practice times to 15 minutes.

Remember, even for our school aged children…speech pathology home practice needs to be guided and supported by a parent, carer and/or educator so resist the temptation to try and ‘squeeze’ home practice into too many days when you are unlikely to be able to provide your full attention and support.

Book those times into your calendar.  Choose the times of the day that will be more conducive to home practice.

Times where you are likely to be less distracted by other children. other tasks and other stimuli in your environment.

Ideally, the times for home practice are those where you can dedicate your entire focus and presence towards your child.

These times need to be positive.  That doesn’t mean that you need to pull out all of the bells and whistles but ideally these times are enjoyed by both yourself and your child.  For younger children, a box of stickers and stamps as rewards for effort can work a treat.  For slightly older children, there are plenty of fun cause/effect games that can be incorporated into therapy.

Pop up Pirate , Greedy Granny, and Phil the Fridge some of our favourites.

Discuss what needs to be happening in your child’s home practice times in detail with your child’s speech pathologist.  It is really important that home practice doesn’t feel ‘too hard’ for your child and that you have some good strategies to assist at these moments in order to keep your child motivated and engaged.  We discussed some ideas to help encourage your child at these moments here

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Considering Parent Perspectives when Discussing Speech and Language Concerns

“I was waiting for my child’s early childhood educator to tell me that they had concerns”

Too often, this is what we are told by parents and carers when seeing a child for the first time at age 8 in our speech pathology clinics.

By then, the child often dislikes learning….feels they are a poor reader….avoids participation in the classroom ….. is a challenge for parents to get any homework completed….is disinterested in the classroom.

The list goes on!

It is vital for children to be identified as early as possible with speech, language and communication difficulties in order for them to access the support they need.

Support provided in the early years can prevent the cascade of social and emotional difficulties that sadly, often follow, if these difficulties are left unaddressed until the early Primary School years.

Yes, it can be a difficult topic for Early Childhood Educators to broach with parents and there may be a range of reactions from parents.

That doesn’t mean the conversation should never happen.

Here are some tips for Early Childhood Educators when scheduling a meeting a family to discuss concerns about speech, language and communication skills.

Parent/Carers may have noticed some of these concerns themselves

If so, encourage the parent to share his or her observations and concerns with you.  Acknowledge these concerns and reassure the parent/s that you will work together to come up with a plan to support the child’s development.

Parents may feel defensive

Hearing concerns being raised about your child’s development can be overwhelming and may trigger defensive responses from parents.  Educators can assist by remaining neutral and positive in the interaction and listening to the parent.  Let the parent express their concerns and feelings and acknowledge their perspective.

Follow Up

After the initial conversation, follow up with families to see how they are doing and whether they have any questions or concerns.  Not all families will be ‘ready’ to hear the information that you need to share with them at the time you decide to share it.  If you are consistently available and have a positive relationships with the family, the parents/carers will know you are there to confide in when and if needed.

Be Informed

Educate yourself on what speech, language and communication skill development looks like, what the signs of delay may be and what are the most appropriate ways to support the child who shows these signs of delay.

Our Learn2Communicate website is the perfect place for you to start and our social media pages are also full of evidence based information and helpful tips for educators and parents.

Beware of common myths

Arm yourself with information so that you feel informed and equipped to answer questions that parents may have.  Be honest when you do not know the answer and offer to find out for the parent by consulting with your local Speech Pathologist or contacting us via our website.

Having ‘that’ conversation can be challenging but…

It is so important.

Parents are often waiting for an educator to raise […]


So you have some concerns about a child you educate…..

The first step is always to start documenting your observations

As an early childhood educator, you cannot accurately identify and support children who have speech, language and communication difficulties without first collecting and documenting your observations.

Before you approach parents, it is essential to document your observations about the child’s communication skills.  To make it a little easier, we have a free comprehensive guide for early childhood educators that you can download from our website or a quick cheat sheet if you want to opt for something a little quick simpler .

Schedule a meeting with the parents

Conversations with a parent about concerns you may have regarding their child should not be attempted during drop off / pick up times.  Instead, schedule a meeting with the parent.  This will allow for a more personal, detailed conversation and provides parents with notice so that they can prepare themselves emotionally.

It also goes without saying that such meetings and conversations can only be scheduled when there is a high element of trust and positive rapport between the early childhood educator and the parent.  The importance of pouring your energy into establishing these positive relationships with families cannot be understated!

Use Positive, Encouraging Language in the meeting but be HONEST

Framing your observations in more positive language whilst still clearly communicating your concerns is important.

Instead of “I am worried about your child’s development”  try “I have some observations that I would like to share with you”.

You can then share your observations and provide specific examples to help parents understand why you have concerns about their child’s development.  Encourage parents to also share their observations with you.

Listen more than you Speak

Make some open ended comments and questions to encourage parents to share information with you about their child.

Actively listen to this information.  Remember that the parent is always the expert when it comes to their child.  They can always provide us with more information to help us understand their child’s strengths and challenges as well as other factors which may be impacting their child’s development.

Be Empathetic

Remember that discussing a child’s development can be sensitive topic for many parents.  Try to understand and accept a variety of responses from parents and shown them that you are there to support them and their child.

Offer to Help

It is one thing to raise a parent’s awareness about a child’s developmental challenges.  It is another to have the parent understand, acknowledge and come to terms with this information.

Once these two first steps have been worked through, parents can feel very overwhelmed about where to start in order to help their child.  It is important for early childhood educators to have some helpful resources, contacts, service provider options and information at their fingertips so that parents feel supported in addressing their child’s developmental concerns.

Once again, our free resources (books, home programmes) can be of assistance as can our social media pages and .

Keep an eye out for next week’s Chatterbox […]


Less can be More

I am finding myself coming back to this theme more and more over recent weeks both in my work as a Speech Pathologist and in my personal life.

Take small steps every day and eventually you will get there.

When things feel overwhelming you can focus on this…just taking the next step.

Wow!  What a good reminder for all of us; busy Allied Health Professionals or parents of children who have complex and challenging communication difficulties.

Small Steps and AAC

Has your child been recently prescribed a high-tech speech output device?  Maybe you have been introduced to LAMP, SNAP Core, TouchChat or Proloquo2Go.  Does that sound like another language to you?  Well, learning to use AAC can be likened to learning another language.  It is another way of communicating and is quite different to using only spoken language.  Learning how to use an augmentative and alternative communication system is a BIG GOAL but…if you break it down into small steps it can be achievable in a manner that is not overwhelming for parents, educators or children.

Families we work with who have seen success with introducing AAC all seem to have one thing in common; they have taken it slowly and persisted with small steps over time.  If it is all feeling overwhelming right now, work with your Speech Pathologist to choose focus words and try introducing only 1 word at a time.  Model as well as encourage your child’s functional use of this word in everyday routines and take it slowly.

Less can be more.  We can focus upon building your child’s use of all the vocabulary that AAC has to offer step by step.  It doesn’t have to be all at once!

Small Steps and Speech Pathology Goals

So your child has been diagnosed with a communication impairment… therapy is recommended.  The next stage will be to decide upon goals.

My advice is that less is more.  Choose no more than 3 small things to achieve.  Choose goals that are important, that have meaning and that will make a significant difference for your child but keep them small and really specific.

Achieving these small goals helps your child to inch towards achieving those big, longer term goals whilst being motivated by small wins and success along the way.

This is far more effective than standing at the bottom of the ladder, looking up and giving up because it all feels too hard.


Choose a small number of goals that are specific, small and achievable.  This applies if your child is in therapy or if you are feeling overwhelmed with your role in all of this as a carer of a child who requires the services of a Speech Pathologist or other service provider.

You can say ‘no’

There are no quick fixes in therapy..not when it comes to Speech Pathology.  Families need to be able to fully commit and engage in the therapy process for children to make good progress. It is okay if now is the not the right time […]


Late Talkers

My Toddler is Not Talking Yet.

Should I be concerned?  What can I do to help?

These are comments and questions that we hear quite frequently when concerned parents contact us at Learn2Communicate.  So many parents have, what they describe as, a niggling doubt about their child’s speech and language development.  At first, they may rely upon the well-meaning advice of loved ones.  Being told ‘Don’t worry.  He will grow out of it’ or  ‘Your father didn’t speak until he was 4’ can temporarily put those worries aside but, unless that little toddler starts to talk soon after, such comments rarely help to allay a parent’s worry.  Before long someone will surely say something  along the lines of ‘I think he should be talking by now’ or ‘Your child should have 50 words by this age’.  Although such comments often tip a parent into action; these types of comments can also fuel a parent’s concern and do little by way of assisting the parent in knowing what to do next and when to do it.

For those of you reading this post and think ‘Ahhh…I do have concerns about my child’s language development’, then please read on as we have some simple tips to get you started and to help you feel  empowered with the knowledge, skills and capacity to nurture your child’s communication development.  There is much that you can do to help young children learn how to communicate. All children can become effective communicators…even those who have a significant degree of disability and other co-morbid conditions.  Okay, read on for some great tips to get started!

The ‘WHY’ of Communication

Sit back and observe your child for a few days.  Take note of the reasons WHY your child communicates.  Take your focus off which speech sounds your child can or cannot say for now.  Just ask yourself WHY does my child communicate / for what communicative purposes?

Some reasons why you child might communicate include to express:

  • Greetings / Farewells
  • Request for items, food, drink and actions e.g. to be lifted out of the highchair, to go outside
  • Comments about what he or she is interested in or is noticing
  • Responses to your simple questions and to your requests to follow simple directions
  • Enjoyment, excitement, frustration, protest and rejection

The HOW of Communication

Some of the many ways in which your child might communicate these intents might include:

  • Facial expressions
  • Tone of voice
  • Gestures including pointing
  • Speech ‘jargon’ that is unintelligible but that has the intonation of language
  • Single words
  • Short phrases

Identify any gaps in the WHYs of communication

Communication is a complex dance between people that goes back and forth in a reciprocal relationship.  Communication involves far more than identifying body parts or imitating words after an adult requests a child to ‘say…’.  Look for the gaps in your child’s communicative intent.

Perhaps your child can wave hello and bye bye but may not yet be communicating for the purpose […]

Talking Time with your Child…Make it an Atomic Habit

I have recently been reflecting upon how our daily habits all contribute to our long term health and wellbeing after reading the bestselling book ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear.  For those of you who attended our face to face Learn2Communicate events throughout the Central West of NSW earlier in 2022, you would already know this.  I haven’t stopped thinking about the idea of applying this concept to my work as a Speech Pathologist.  How can we make small and easy changes to our daily routines and interactions with children in a way that will have a powerful impact?

We know that children respond well to frequent, positive interactions with a loving caregiver and that child acquisition of oral language skills can be boosted in the early years via such interactions. As a Speech Pathologist and also as a Parent, I also know that providing families of children who have speech, language and communication challenges with comprehensive, detailed ‘home programmes’ in order to provide this boost to oral language can be ineffective.  Add to this the request by the Speech Pathologist to “complete this home programme with your child at least 3-4 times per week and try to spend 15-30 minutes during each practice time” and we see many parents opting to run for the hills!

What if we could, instead, infuse some new powerful habits into everyday routines and that these habits were easy yet effective in helping all children become effective communicators?

How can we make Talking Time with Children a new Atomic Habit that each and every one of us can adopt?

Here are some ideas I would encourage all of you to consider!

Start by identifying what the exisiting routines are during your day that involve you and your child.

Write these down.  A routine doesn’t have to have many steps; it is simply just something that happens on several days each week with some degree of predictability.  Some examples I can think of with a toddler in mind might be: getting into the car seat, packing a bag for daycare, bath time, story time at night, getting dressed, breakfast, snack, lunch and dinner time, parent returning home from work time, bed time.  Perhaps keep a blank piece of paper on the fridge for a week and note every small little routine that you can think of as it occurs.

Now…choose one of those routines and write down the ‘script’ for what happens. Here is an example for a fictional child. Let’s call him Dylan:

Snack Time after Preschool

Mum opens front door.

Mum and Dylan walk inside.

Mum takes Dylan’s backpack and unpacks drink bottle, lunch box and hat.

Mum puts each of these items away.

Mum takes Dylan’s shoes off.

Mum opens fridge and makes Dylan a snack of carrot sticks and hummus.

Mum lifts Dylan to sit at kitchen bench and places snack in front of him.

Mum says “time for afternoon tea”

Dylan eats snack whilst mum […]



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