The last post, I posted tips for a new pushed in preschool SLP. While I was writing it, I realized that it was becoming too big and decided to split it into two posts. To get the first half, go here. This post have six more tips that can help you to start preschool on the right foot.
2. Many students with language delays will have weak verb and preposition knowledge and use. When assessing for goals, make sure that these are on the top of the list of skills to assess. As well, when planning activities in the classroom, ensure you are including activities that work on this vocabulary. Pronoun use, sequencing, categorization, social language skills, and labeling emotions are other areas that I often target.
3. Use songs and books. Preschoolers respond well to songs and books. If you are doing large group activities, make sure that you incorporate songs and books. Use books and songs even if you are working with a child one-on-one. There are many great songs and song publishers out there from Super Simple Songs and Talk It Rock It, to name a few. As well, there are so many books around to help with a wide variety of skills and topics.
4. Differentiation. All SLPs do this but due to the wide range of skills you may be working on or time constraints, you may need to differentiate more than you have in previous positions. To make the most of your planning and therapy time make sure that you can work on a number of goals with the least amount of materials. While I prefer to work with children that have similar goals at the same time, that is not always possible. Being able to use an activity to work on artic skills and/or grammar skills and/or foundational language skills is very beneficial to you and your students.
5. Many students you serve will have weak play and social language skills. In my experience, children with speech and/or language skills usually need help building these skills. The role of each discipline regarding who is working on play and social language skills can become murky. This is another topic that should be discussed at the beginning of the school year and in my opinion, everyone should be working on building these skills. Play skills and social language skills are other important areas for you to observe, and if necessary treat throughout the year.
6. Sometimes a child emotional needs will be more important than a child’s speech and language needs. Now, this may be controversial for some but if you have a student who is too anxious, or in too much pain, or so distraught that they can not pay attention, then what you do in therapy is going to be ineffectual. Your students are young and many of them will have gone through more in their little lives than you will. As a result, it is doubly important to establish a strong relationship with your students. If your student is having a really bad day, it may be time to ditch your therapy plans and maybe play, or read a book, or give them a hug. Please make sure that you know your classroom, school, district’s policy on providing comfort to students and follow your policy.
If you are new to pushed in preschool therapy, know that you can do this. You have the skills and the knowledge to be successful. Many of the skills in your previous positions will still be valuable, you just may have to tweak them a little. Have fun and don’t be afraid to laugh at the funny things your kids do or say. Laugh at the weird things that you never thought you would do or say. Embrace the mess, which may or may not be as easy as it sounds. Be flexible. You may come into to class with the best therapy plans ever and either the students are not there or a proverbial bomb has dropped in your class and you have to completely change what you are doing. You got this.