Part of the role of a speech-language pathologist (SLP) is to facilitate and encourage parental involvement in their child’s speech-language therapy. Including parents in speech therapy is considered best practice – proven to improve child outcomes – and is federally mandated for school-based SLPs. Despite the guidelines and research that show its benefits, SLPs’ approach to involving parents varies considerably. This current Crane Center study increases our understanding of the ways in which SLPs support parental involvement in their child’s speech therapy homework, practice and activities. Crane researchers surveyed 156 SLPs from different work settings (school-based, clinic-based and private practice) to uncover SLPs’ practices, perspectives and strategies of facilitating parental involvement.
Study author and Crane researcher, Dr. Sherine Tambyraja, discusses how the study findings can apply to the times of COVID and virtual learning:
Although these data were collected pre-COVID, the importance of parental engagement and involvement is greater than ever, as SLPs are likely to be even more reliant on families to ensure that speech homework gets done. Some of the successful strategies that SLPs identified in this study can be immensely helpful, particularly for school-based SLPs, who may need to try different approaches with different families.
For children receiving teletherapy, communication with parents could potentially be easier, as they can more easily observe their child’s therapy session, speak more frequently with the SLP, and have better context on how to help their child practice at home. However, the strain on parents right now cannot be overlooked, regardless of whether their child is in a virtual or hybrid learning model. SLPs’ suggestions for embedding therapy practice into families’ everyday activities may be particularly key to making sure children get the speech practice they need to be successful.
of responding SLPs indicated that they provided homework activities “always” or “most of the time,” with only one SLP indicating that they never sent homework activities.
Less than half of SLPs followed up with parents “always” or “most of the time.”
Results indicated that SLPs’ workplace context was significant, suggesting that SLPs working in school-based settings were less likely to follow up with parents regarding homework completion compared to SLPs in other types of settings (e.g., private practice, hospital clinics, etc.).
SLPs identified a number of effective strategies in encouraging parental involvement in home-based speech activities:
- provide parents with handouts/activities;
- engage with parents face-to-face to explain activities and the importance of home practice; and
- find ways to incorporate speech practice into families’ regular routines.
- The discrepancy between homework provision and homework completion follow-up indicates that SLPs should consider incorporating that additional step into their routines of communicating with parents. There may be relatively quick and easy ways, such as text message reminders, that could serve to increase rates of homework completion.
- SLPs may need to use different strategies with different families, as methods for effectively facilitating parental involvement are likely to vary.
- School-based SLPs are less likely to follow-up with homework completion. School administrators may need to be more involved in supporting school-based SLPs with parental involvement in speech activities.