The school year has lifted off! 'Tis the season of children struggling to wake up their snoozing summer brains, and parents furiously working to stay one step ahead. As a home school child, back-to-school meant the start of a more structured schedule – spending my days engaging in learning and completing school assignments. However, at the end of the school day, I was able to throw myself back into the world of relaxation and play. Not so for my mother, the home school parent. For her, back to school meant something entirely different. It meant figuring out how to fit it all in and check all the boxes. It meant time spent planning behind the scenes, careful planning from which I benefited and bore fruit.
For parents of struggling readers and writers, all home school planning must incorporate specific language strategies and goals. The question becomes, how to prioritize this learning with all other learning?
In last week’s post, Rita offered a weekly calendar to help parents continue (and expand upon) what is done in the therapy room into their weekly school schedule.
At this point, I like to offer some insight into the therapy process. Why do you see Rita and I doing what we do in the therapy room? How do we target retention of language concepts and strengthening of underlying processing skills in our students? As Rita likes to call it, we aim for “stickiness” (retention) of the strategies and skills that we teach our students, and our methods serve as the adhesive.
So what do you see when visiting the therapy room with Rita or myself?
Coordination and Consolidation:
On our website, www.rootedinlanguage.com, click the Educational Media tab – scroll down to the file titled Lulu Learns to Write, and click for download. This little document is an illustrated metaphor explaining the concept of cognitive load, written by Rita and illustrated by her friend Tracy Molitors. This graphic metaphor helps parents understand why our kiddos with Dyslexia are seemingly unable to retain/internalize all of the language concepts we have taught them. This short, illustrated story uses the image of trying to hold too many boxes - as you learn more (pick up more boxes) you begin to drop old ones…you just cannot hold them all. Our job as SLPs is to help problem solve and teach strategies for consolidating skills into single boxes, so that skills become automatic and our children can "hold it all."
Skills must be both coordinated (learned) and consolidated (automatized). Kids practice this in school. A skill may be learned and practice (i.e. reading single syllable words), and consolidated (i.e. reading and writing a paragraph through copywork).
As a result, we weave therapy through all areas of language: phonology (sound), orthography (writing), syntax (grammar), semantics (meaning/literary elements), and morphology (word study). As you saw with Rita’s sample calendar in last week’s post, we strive to engage our students, consistently and methodically, in practicing skills to consolidate all areas of language, which results in the most “stickiness.”