Parents & Teachers Toolbox

Key Takeaways

Speech therapy isn’t a quick fix. It takes hard work over many months or even years.

It’s helpful if the speech therapist has experience working with kids with your child’s issue.

Your involvement—like practicing exercises at home—can make speech therapy more effective.

Little ones

Giving support to parents and teachers in the areas of speech, language, literacy & life skills will make the difference for a child reaching their goals in a timely and practical manner. Our role is to input confidence and tools for these key people in a child’s world to make therapy effective and a successful experience for all.


This technique can be used if your child’s errors relate to language or speech.
E.g. your child says “him my sister” you can say “yes, she is your sister.”

Choice Questions Or Forced Alternatives
This technique requires a response from your child.
The response may be non-verbal or verbal (one word or a phrase).

Give your child two alternatives using questions
Make sure the questions are at the level of your child.
E.g. you ask “do you want juice or milk?” your child says “juice.”


Feed it in, don’t squeeze it out
Your child is like a sponge when it comes to learning language…

Use parallel talk
Talk about what your child is doing e.g. “You ran fast.”

Use self talk
Talk about what you are doing e.g. “Tidy the toys, close the lid.”


The aim is to expand your child’s communication and increase their awareness of how words are put together. E.g. your child points at a car and says “that car” you expand by saying “ that is a car”

Our job is to equip parents and teachers with tools
that elevate successful therapy for children.

Middle Years

Integrate speech practice into daily activities as much as possible!! Here are some general activities to try. Choose those which fit your child’s age and interest the best.

Speech Activities

1. If your child is working on a specific sound, help him to become aware of that sound by pointing out things in the environment that contain the sound. You can do this in a number of ways:

  • Go on a “Sound Walk”. Hunt for things in or outside of the house that have the child’s speech sound.
  •  Look through magazines for pictures or words that have his speech sound.
  • When driving, look for things with the child’s sound.
  • Play a 20 Questions. Think of a word or object that has the child’s speech sound. Have the child ask questions to figure out what the object is. If that is too difficult, give the child clues and have him guess.

2. Once your child can say the sound correctly in words, have him practice saying some of those words for you. When that becomes easy, have him say them in sentences.

  • Spelling Search – Have the child search his spelling list for words that have his sound in. Say them aloud.
  • Silly Sentences – See who can make up the silliest sentence using one of your child’s speech words.
  • Challenge Sentences – See who can make up the sentence using the most words containing the speech sound.
  • Tongue Twisters – Do you know a tongue twister that has your child’s speech sound? Can you and your child make some up?

3. When your child is able to say his speech sound in words and sentences, have him begin to practice reading aloud using his sound correctly. For beginning readers, have him read from his reading book or story books he enjoys. Try using poems, the Sunday Funnies, Comic Books, cereal boxes, signs, TV guide, video or board game instructions, anything your child enjoys reading. (This will help improve reading skills too!)

4. Begin to encourage your child to use the sound correctly for short periods of time during the day. This is called “carryover”. Can your child carryover good speech every time he says his
sister’s name? his pet’s name? his favourite food?

5. Once your child is able to use good speech for longer periods of time, try these conversational activities.

  • Make a phone call using good speech.
  • Use good speech all during supper.
  • Use good speech in the car on the way to practice, lessons, or school.
  • Use good speech while going over homework.


Help your child remember spoken information of increasing length. Aim to have them remember information without prompting. Increase their understanding and use of irregular past tense verbs irregular past tense verbs (e.g. rode, drive, caught), irregular plurals (e.g. mice, children) as well as pronouns for females (she, her).

Improve sentence structure and use of vocabulary to help them adequately get their point across. Increase their ability to sequence and retell events.

What we can do in the classroom

Making things explicit

  • Provide clear written instructions for assignments and projects
  • Be direct and explicit re classroom rules. Don’t enforce with sarcasm
  • Explain the purpose of activities – some will not correctly infer them – and present new tasks in small steps
  • Provide a list of vocabulary for a new topic and check understanding. Personal dictionaries with topical vocabulary can be useful for a student who can’t retain material
  • Explicitly teach note taking and time management, and use organisational systems with the whole class e.g. diaries, buddy systems, keeping lists of subject requirements .
  • Provide models; good essays/assignments etc, good strategies used (make them real ones)


Limit the amount of new vocabulary presented at any one time. Provide visual cues and concrete materials to assist learning and remembering. Use for illustration, emphasis and development of ideas. Encourage and use a variety of memory strategies, such as mnemonics, charts and visuals, rehearsal, reward schedules for incremental increases in performance

Avoid sarcasm, ambiguity, and explain and restate metaphorical language. Be aware that abstract ideas and language may be problematic, and restate. Use direct rather than indirect instructions, e.g.stop talking rather than I didn’t hear Warren because some people were talking.


Ensure students complete tasks without experiencing failure

  • Teach students with difficulties to compile lists of significant facts details or information, and order them according to headings.
  • Use memory strategies (such as cards with key words) for learning these. Students with language disorders often have difficulty with reading and writing. It may be desirable to negotiate with them other ways of collecting and presenting information; e.g. tape recording
  • Encourage peer group contact and acceptance. Peer Assistance one to one,
  • Negotiate with the student the amount of work appropriate for them


Reading in the Content Area
Content area teachers need to teach reading skills in their own area of specialization to help increase students’ reading comprehension.
The following, listed by content area, is a suggested list of skills to teach. Lists were adapted from Comprehensive High School Methods (second edition), by D. Shepherd and from Reading Strategies for Middle and Secondary School Teachers
(second edition), by L. Burmeister.

1. Interpreting maps and pictures
2. Understanding cause and effect patterns of writing
3. Understanding sequence of events and overlapping of time periods
4. Noting similarities and differences
5. Dealing with detailed statement of fact
6. Recognizing propaganda techniques
7. Differentiating fact from opinion
8. Dealing with time, place, space concepts
9. Following directions
10. Classifying
11. Applying information to new situations
12. Making inferences
13. Adjusting rate to purpose and difficulty of material
14. Noting main idea and supporting details

1. Reading the concise style that is the nature of scientific writing as opposed to narrative
2. Seeing relationships
3. Interpreting charts, tables, graphs, formulas
4. Varying the rate of reading according to the purpose
5. Understanding the parts of the book and its particular learning aids such as margin notes,
boldface print, review statements, etc.
6. Getting information from government publications and bulletins
7. Reading for exact meaning
8. Reading directions accurately
9. Evaluating, drawing conclusions, making judgements
10. Applying information from reading to practical problems
11. Fusing reading skills with steps in the scientific process
12. Classifying
13. Establishing cause-effect relationships
14. Seeing similarities and differences
15. Recognizing sequences

1. Following directions accurately
2. Reading diagrams, charts, patterns, cutaways, plans, and drawings
3. Gaining information from technical magazines, catalogs, journals
4. Reading for main ideas and details
5. Noting relationships
6. Understanding occupational information of a trade nature about careers or leisure activities
7. Applying information as in job sheets, planning for production, safety signs

1. Following directions
2. Reading diagrams, recipes
3. Dealing with time, space, quantity concepts
4. Reading for a purpose
5. Applying information to new situations
6. Noting main ideas and supporting details
7. Getting information from government publications and bulletins
8. Establishing cause-effect relationships
9. Seeing similarities and differences
10. Recognizing sequences
11. Adjusting rate to purpose and difficulty of material
12. Visualizing what is read

1. Following directions accurately
2. Reading for a purpose
3. Noting details
4. Getting information from pictures
5. Using social studies reading skills when reading biographies or art history.

1. Reading musical notation—symbols
2. Reading for background and enrichment such as biographies (see social studies list)
3. Reading technical vocabulary derived from foreign languages—more advanced
4. Reading music theory using skills similar to those used in mathematics (see mathematics list below)
5. Reading critiques: considering qualifications and view of author, making evaluations and judgments

1. Following directions
2. Reading diagrams, charts, tables
3. Reading for a purpose
4. Adjusting rate to purpose and difficulty of material
5. Getting information from pictures
6. Noting main ideas and details
7. Differentiating fact from opinion
8. Dealing with time, place, space concepts
9. Making inferences
10. Applying information to new situations

2. Analyzing information from tables, formulas, equations
3. Solving work problems
4. Interpreting pictures, diagrams, graphs
5. Relating previous information to what is currently being read
6. Following directions
7. Understanding specialized vocabulary, which includes
a. technical words (sine, arc, linear)
b. general words with specific math meanings (prime, natural, square)
c. process words (time, subtract, column)
d. general words which must be understood for good comprehension



Schickedanz, (1999). Much more than the ABCs: The early stages of reading and writing. Washington, DC: NAEYC.

Paul, R., Language Disorders from Infancy through Adolescence: Assessment and Intervention. (3rd Ed),. St. Louis: Mosby, 2007.
Roseberry‐McKibbin, C. & Hegde M.N., An Advanced Review of Speech‐Language Pathology: Preparation for PRAXIS and Comprehnsive Examination (2nd Ed.), Austin: Pro‐Ed, 2006.

Social Thinking
Madrigal, S., & Winner, M. G. (2008). SuperFlex: A Superhero Social Thinking Curriculum. San Jose, CA: Think Social Publishing.

Sautter, E., & Wilson, K. (2011). Whole Body Listening Larry at School. San Jose, CA: Think Social Publishing.

Winner, M. G. (2005). Think Social: A Social-Thinking Curriculum for School Age Students. San Jose, CA: Think Social Publishing.

Winner, M. G., & Crooke, P., (2008). You are a Social Detective. San Jose, CA: Think Social Publishing.

Cameron, S. (2009), Teaching Reading Comprehension Strategies: a practical classroom guide, Pearson: North Shore, New Zealand.

Denton, C., Bryan, D., Wexler, J., Reed, D. & Vaughn S. (2007), Effective Instruction for Middle School Students with Reading Difficulties: The reading Teachers’ Sourcebook,

Harvey, S., & Goudvis, A. (2000). Strategies that work. York, ME: Stenhouse.
Reid, R. & Lienemann, T. O. (2006). Strategy Instruction for Students with Learning Disabilities, The Guildford press: New York.