Empowering children with choices

“You have a lot of patience,” a parent told me after she watched a therapy session of her son and two boys.

It is true. I have a lot of patience with children. I have to possess the patient trait to be able to work with three boys younger than 5 years old who only care about one thing and that is to have fun. All they want to do is laugh and play. I remember those days of not having a stress in the world.

But how do you make them want to work on their speech goals?

I usually plan a set of three or four different activities to do in 30 minutes with each of my groups. Some days we get through all four activities, most days we get through two and one that was unplanned.

I worked with children as I completed my undergraduate studies at a licensed afterschool program, Extend-A-Care for Kids, in Austin and I learned a lot. The most important thing I learned that helps me out the most today is children love to make decisions.

That is why I always plan four different activities for them to choose from.

“Would you rather sing about the days and months or just review the calendar?”

“Do you want to sing along with the rapping dinosaur or sing the A is for apple song?”

“Do you want to read first or play a game?”

“Do you want to sit at the table or on the bean bags?”

By offering the children many opportunities to make various choices, they feel empowered and are more willing to participate. Plus, some students have speech goals to make a choice between two objects, so bam!

For the most part, I still have control over the group even if they made the decisions of what to do. I trained myself to be more flexible during the therapy sessions, so that the students can benefit from every session.

I may want the students to learn a certain way, but every student learns differently and I feel it is my responsibility to adapt to their learning style so they can ultimately learn.

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