In the last post, I posted tips for a new push-in preschool SLP. While 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. Here are more tips that can help you to start preschool on the right foot.
Concepts of the Week.
The concept of the week is a vocabulary word, grammatical form, sound, or language skill that will be emphasized during the week (or two weeks). As children often have weak verbs, prepositions, and pronouns, these were my “go-to” concepts. I tend to work on the earlier developing “concepts” at the beginning of the year and then, depending on the student’s work on later developing towards the end of the year. Do not be afraid to recycle concepts. Your students will need the review.
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. When planning activities in the classroom, ensure you include activities that work on this vocabulary. Pronoun use, sequencing, categorization, social language skills, and labelling emotions are other areas that I often target.
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. There are so many books around to help with a wide variety of skills and topics.
All SLPs do this, but you may need to differentiate more than you have in previous positions due to the wide range of skills you may be working on or time constraints. To make the most of your planning and therapy time, make sure you can work on several 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. Using an activity to work on artic skills and/or grammar skills and/or foundational language skills is very beneficial to you and your students.
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. 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 treat throughout the year.
Sometimes, a child’s 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 an awful day, it may be time to ditch your therapy plans and maybe play, or read a book, or give them a hug. Please ensure that you know your classroom, school, district’s policy on providing comfort to students and follow your policy.
If you are a new push-in SLP, 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 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 change what you are doing completely. For tips on what to do for whole group activities, go here. You got this.