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  • By Joanne Summer, MA, CCC-SLP

Speech Time—Handling the Dreaded “H” Word


With the arrival of October, school and after-school activities are in full swing, and many students and parents alike are trying to figure out how to fit homework into busy schedules. Complicating matters for some students and parents is Speech homework.

However, understanding the purpose of the Speech assignments and reframing your thinking about them will do you and your student a world of good.

For starters, let’s get rid of that word “homework” and its unfavorable connotations. When I assigned my Speech students words, phrases or sentences to practice at home, I never called it homework. Instead, I called it by the true term, “home practice.” I explained to children and parents alike that to improve any skill, be it throwing a ball, skating, gymnastics, and so on, one needs to practice. By practicing good speech, your children will improve their articulation of sounds. They will also do so in a variety of environments outside the classroom, including your home, the car, shopping malls, sporting venues, etc. As I’m sure you’ll agree, we want your child to sound better and clearer in all settings, not just in the Speech room or clinic.

Also keep in mind that Speech practice is easy to schedule. Unlike math or writing homework, speech is not necessarily optimally produced while sitting at a table or desk. We can speak almost everywhere, all the time. I have often advised busy parents that Speech homework is not meant to be onerous on them or their children. Their children can easily practice syllables, words, phrases or sentences while in the car, en route to many after-school and weekend activities. Parents can easily listen to their children practice, and upon arriving at their destination, sign off on the homework to indicate that the practice session had been completed.

As I asked several children who told me that they “didn’t have time” to do their Speech” homework,” “Did you have time to talk?” If they have time to talk and you have five to 10 minutes to listen, there is plenty of time to practice Speech.

Joanne Summer, MA, CCC-SLP, a speech-language pathologist based in Morristown, NJ, has helped hundreds of children improve their speech sound production and language skills. She founded Well Spoken Speech Therapy, LLC, in 2014 after spending 12 years providing therapy to children (K-5) in the New Jersey public school system. In private practice, her clients also include younger children and adolescents. In addition, she treats people of all ages who stutter or otherwise find it difficult to speak fluently—an area in which she has received extensive specialized training.

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