Pediatric Therapeutic Services

Teletherapy Tips for School-Based SLPs

Providing speech therapy and other language services when you can’t be physically face to face with students presents some challenges.

Female school-based SLP conducts teletherapy for student at home, holding model teeth and ball in view of laptop web camera. But once you identify and use the array of resources at your disposal, you’ll realize those challenges aren’t insurmountable. Teletherapy for Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) is not only possible, but also can be powerful!

The SLPs at Pediatric Therapeutic Services (PTS) want to provide you with tips for identifying and making the most of the resources that lead to productive teletherapy sessions and—most importantly—students’ success!

Use Common Household Items as Speech Therapy Resources

In teletherapy, SLPs can use the most common, everyday items to facilitate student progress.

Here are some speech and language therapy skills your students can strengthen using simple household objects:

  • Expressive Language
    Tell students to show you objects by holding them up to the web camera. Then have students identify them, describe their features, and compare and contrast them.
  • Auditory Comprehension
    Put together a scavenger hunt. Have students follow your verbal directions to find various household items: “Find something in the room that’s old… flat… wet…”
  • Articulation
    Ask students to identify things in the room whose names begin with the targeted sounds: “Find something that starts with /r/.”
  • Language Elicitation and Increase in Utterance Length
    Your students can not only use things in their homes, but also things in yours. For instance: Do you have a box? Put a secret object inside it. Tell students they can see what’s inside once they correctly use a targeted word or phrase. Build the anticipation!
  • Life Skills
    Your students’ IEP goals may include tasks to complete in the home (washing the dishes, for example, or making a sandwich). Watch students complete these tasks and have them talk about each step in the process as they do.

Build Up Your Online Speech and Language Resource Library

You may not be traveling from school to school any time soon. Why not take advantage of the time at home to bulk up your repertoire of online websites, worksheets, and other therapy activities?

Here are a few of our favorite teletherapy ideas to get you started: 

Worksheets
You can use any type of worksheet in online speech therapy. Using Zoom’s annotation and whiteboarding features, students can take notes, draw shapes, circle, underline, or do whatever you’d like them to do! If your list of go-to websites for free or low-cost worksheets doesn’t include the ones below, be sure to add them:

  • Speakingofspeech.com offers page after page of printable and interactive materials.
  • Teacherspayteachers.com has tons of teacher- and therapist-created resources available for digital download, and your payment supports the content creators.
  • Mommyspeechtherapy.com gives families access to free worksheets equally useful for SLPs’ teletherapy sessions.

Interactive Sites
Students love interacting with websites, so why not steer them toward educational ones? Some interactive sites featuring speech and language activities include:

  • Funbrain.com hosts engaging games, videos, and e-books, all organized by grade level.
  • Cookie.com offers games, stories, worksheets, and more—even arts and crafts ideas you could use to elicit language.
  • Quia.com allows you to create your own quizzes and activities (flashcards, challenge boards, and more).

And don’t forget about Boom Cards—gamified, self-grading digital flashcards that yield valuable data on your students’ progress.

Female SLP conducts teletherapy via laptop in her home, wearing headset, gesturing toward her laptop computer’s web camera.

e-Books
Books are always a great way to engage learners and target speech and language skills. You can use them so easily when providing teletherapy services. In an effort to promote online learning, some sites are providing free children’s books. For example, Storyline Online provides a library of free stories read aloud by celebrities.  

Games
Use simple and quick computer games as a reward for completing a speech therapy task. Check out websites like cookie.com or playtictactoe.org for easy reinforcing games.  

Videos
YouTube clips can help students reach various goals.

For articulation, therapists can find models for placement of any sound. Videos can provide additional models of fluency-enhancing strategies. When working with students with pragmatic language goals, find videos of communication breakdowns (such as this one) and have students analyze what went wrong.

At GoNoodle, you’ll discover some great Youtube clips you can use to target receptive language and following directions. They also get kids up and moving—a very important goal when students are stuck at home!

Enlist Parents and Family Members as Your Teletherapy Partners

Start by involving your student’s parents or guardians in the planning process. Ask them about items they may have around the house that students could use. Have them work with their children to gather the items ahead of time.

Not all adult family members may be available to sit in on remote therapy sessions, but if they are, you have a golden opportunity to promote carry-over in the home.

Here are some ways teletherapy for SLPs can involve parents and family members:

  • Play-Based Therapy
    Especially if you’re performing early childhood intervention using a play-based model, having parents sit on the floor to play with their child while you monitor via video conferencing could prove beneficial. Guide the activities by giving parents feedback, such as suggestions for cueing and pointing out opportunities for communication.
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
    Students using AAC could benefit from having an adult present during the session: 

    • A family member could follow your prompting directions (hand-over-hand, touch cue, model, and so on). Teletherapy services provide great opportunities for parents to practice using and fading cues, with your feedback. 
    • If the child is working on gaining someone’s attention, the parent can serve as the practice “target.” This type of skill is especially appropriate for children using the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), where the goal is a physical exchange of information. 
    • In the home, parents are responsible for ensuring the child’s device is charged (if high-tech) and available for use during the session.  
  • Engagement
    Some students may need support from family members to stay present and engaged during teletherapy, so be sure you not only treat families as resources, but also equip them with resources they can use to help students get the most out of your sessions.

PTS offers a strong selection of information sheets and activity ideas for parents. We add to this collection on a regular basis. 

PTS Can Help You Make Speech and Language Teletherapy Possible

Moving into teletherapy services can feel daunting, but don’t give up! Tech and techniques for making it work have been around for years, and its effectiveness is well-documented. You can still help students meet their goals even when you can’t be in the same room.

We hope these teletherapy ideas for SLPs give you a head start as you take your school-based practice online. If you think PTS can help you provide Speech and Language teletherapy in other ways, don’t hesitate to get in touch and let us know!

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