What is the best method to elicit motivation and enthusiasm toward speech therapy from young children, who are not always overly eager to attend therapy sessions? It’s simple. Incorporate “fun” exercises and activities in order to make children excited about attending therapy. It can be up to the child!
When therapists employ achievement-oriented instruction during therapy sessions, children become more eager to complete activities and use their speech and language skills to the best of their abilities. This is optimally therapeutic for the child - a) because the child is participating in activities that activate their speech and language skills, and b) because the child sees the session as fun and interesting. When children look forward to a fun speech therapy session, they become more motivated to get up and go to therapy. As a result, they will begin use their skills wholeheartedly, and (most importantly) will continue to use these skills in an outside educational environment. After all, this is the goal of therapy: application of the speech and language skills targeted in therapy to the world outside the therapy center.
A therapist using this method should always have a specific, targeted goal in mind for the therapy session. Consider focal questions prior to seeing the child: What are we trying to improve today? Then, keeping this goal in mind, the therapist should choose an activity or exercise that they know the particular child sees as fun. It can be useful to survey the child’s unique interests in order to cater the session to this child.
The results will be apparent! The child will begin to enjoy attending therapy sessions - it will become something to look forward to. Children who are having fun will exert more energy and willpower into each individual session. And with this determination and eagerness toward therapy will come rapid improvement.
Substituting worksheets for different, more interactive activities is one idea. A child may not be too enthusiastic about completing a worksheet during therapy or at home, after therapy is over. Sometimes a child may view a worksheet as a required task rather than a fun activity. Instead, give the child some options and ask which he or she thinks is the most interesting. When a child shows little interest in a certain activity that is meant to build on a certain skill, the child may divert his or her attention while completing the activity, spend less time on it completely, or focus less. Compare this to an activity a child enjoys. The child will be excited and begin to actively use his or her skills during therapeutic exercises - spending more time and exerting more willpower.
When a child is having fun in a therapeutic environment, this energy transfers to the educational atmosphere. Simply assuring that your children are enjoying themselves and experiencing the optimal level of excitement during therapy sessions can make a huge difference!