Summer is here and everyone, staff included, is ready for school to let out.
Your students have spent the entire school year working tirelessly on their speech and language goals. You are ecstatic about the progress made; many students met their goals and others were even dismissed from services! On the last day of school, you wish them all a great summer and tell them that you will see them next school year.
Now – fast forward to the start of a new school year. You begin the year by reviewing last school year’s data and remember that Juan was working on /r/ in all positions at the spontaneous conversation level. You also recall that Angel was working on formulating his own sentences while using regular past tense -ed verbs. You plan accordingly.
You start your first session with Juan, excited to present all the fun activities planned for practicing /r/ at the spontaneous conversation level. At the very start of the session, you realize that he is missing every /r/ production despite cues and models during the conversation. You move down the articulation hierarchy to the independent sentence level and he still can’t produce /r/ in all positions despite all the cueing and modeling. You eventually drop down to the sentence level with an immediate model.
The data from last school year demonstrated he was at the conversation level. Why did he regress so much?
Your next session with Angel goes about the same. You start wondering what you could have done to prevent this.
And this is when you realize there may be some important and valuable reasons why summer speech homework is so important.
These hypothetical scenarios are not so hypothetical. After baselining my kids at the beginning of my second year, I decided I needed to start giving summer homework in order to prevent regression from happening again.
After all – practice makes perfect.
After implementing the use of summer homework packet with my students, I noticed a huge improvement in retention for the students who actually completed the homework over the summer. Many students maintained their progress over the summer break and were excited to share the work they did.
Improves Parent and SLP Communication
The key to generalizing across settings is communication.
I made sure all the parents had a heads up about the summer homework. Sometimes a letter wasn’t always enough notice for parents.
During IEP meetings, I told parents to be on the lookout for the homework at the end of the school year and explained what would be included.
This opened up the conversation for discussing different routine-based activities they could engage in with their children. It also allowed provided an opportunity to emphasize the importance of practicing their child’s speech goals over the summer.
Many parents were genuinely grateful that I was providing homework for their students. They wanted their kid’s progress to continue but they weren’t sure on how to go about targeting their deficit areas.
Encourages Parent/Student Involvement in Communication-centered Activities
When giving homework, I always ensure that the activities included are functional and realistic.
Let’s be honest, your students are probably not going to want to get drilled with a bunch of flash cards and/or write their speech sound 10 times when all their friends are on the slide, in a pool or playing tag.
On top of that, many of my students’ parents work full time and don’t always have the time to sit down with their child to work on their homework.
I decided to design my speech homework packets as calendars that include easy to do activities that can be incorporated into the students’ everyday routine and take no more than a few minutes at a time.
For example, the homework includes tasks like “Find 5 things in your house that start with your sound.”
Pretty simple right?
In addition, the homework encourages parent and student communication by involving the parents in the activity such as “Correct your pronunciation during a conversation with your parents.” Tasks like this really make the parents aware of their child’s goal and encourage parent-child communication.
There is one calendar for articulation only students and a second for language-based activities.
If you’re worried about buy-in from some of the parents or even students who don’t show as much interest, try bribery! I offered a small prize for anyone who turned in the homework at the beginning of the school year; because, let’s face it – nobody really wants to do homework over the summer.
What have you sent home with your students over the summer in the past?
Have you found the summer homework packets to be as useful as I have?
Take a moment to share and comment on your experiences with summer homework packets and feel free to shout out any of your favorite products.
Liliana Diaz-Vazquez M.S.,CCC-SLP/L
You can check out the summer calendars I provided to my speech families in my TeachersPayTeachers store. The calendars come in English and Spanish for elementary and preschool students. Links are provided below.
Elementary Calendars for Articulation and Language
Preschool Summer Activities for Language