A little girl and her teacher working with manipulatives.

6 reasons why immersive speech-language classrooms work

Creating an environment of support is the key to unlocking speech challenges. And it’s not hard to do

3. A peer-to-peer network of teachers.
Communication is important among the educators as well. When integrating students into other classes, make sure their teachers are aware of the specifics of their learning plan and how they can help. Keep fellow educators on the same page so that students can get extra attention when needed and also hear back to see how things are going.

4. A holistic approach.
It’s important to know and understand the child as a whole, says David Hammer, vice president of programs for Apraxia Kids, a national organization that supports students and families. “I’ve heard from parents and therapists across the country that there are few immersive programs like this for children with apraxia of speech. We’ve seen children with apraxia of speech make amazing gains without such a classroom experience, but the repetitive practice opportunities this enables would be ideal for children who struggle with motor speech planning.”

Every child is unique, so what works for one person may not work for another. Learn about what motivates your students, their family background, and more to build layers of trust and understanding. That’s difficult to do in 30-minute increments twice a week. Knowing who the child is, where they come from, and where they are going is also an understanding of what motivates and engages the student.

5. Stay connected.
By keeping in touch with students and families, you can build a database of knowledge that expands over time. Checking in with former students to see their progress can provide valuable information for current students. Hold annual gatherings for current and former students so that parents and their children can network and create lasting bonds. This also shows parents, family members, or guardians how much you care about the students, which can lead to positive buzz.

“The success of our program is mostly at a grassroots level with parents referring other parents,” says Cirelli. “This is truly a community program with stakeholders actively participating.”

6. Reduce the need for future therapy.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, approximately 3.6 million students enrolled in public kindergarten this fall and nearly 400,000 of those can benefit from speech-language therapy. Without the proper foundation, speech-language challenges will almost certainly snowball with age. Addressing the issue now in the most effective manner will reduce or eliminate the need for future therapy. This will not only benefit the students, but also save parents and school districts money and resources. It’s a win-win for everybody.

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