Is Telespeech Fairly Priced and Cost Effective?

A mom recently posted in a Facebook group that she was looking for fair-priced speech therapy for her child.

With the proliferation of discount stores, rebates, coupons and senior discounts, we have become very savvy consumers. We want the best price without sacrificing the quality of services.

A good “quality” licensed speech therapist, whether they practice in a traditional setting or online, has completed college, graduate school as well as a Clinical Fellowship year.

And if they are really dedicated and professional, they are enrolling in continuing education courses to keep current.

It’s an expensive and time consuming process for the therapist which factors into the price of therapy.

Here are three other top considerations in determining a “fair price:”

Convenience: We often forget to factor in the cost of convenience in our purchases. Driving time to and from the speech therapist adds additional time to the actual appointment. Your time is worth money. With online speech therapy, there is no traffic, travel or waiting. The appointment is scheduled based on mutual convenience with the time allotted for a session limited to the interaction between the therapist and client.

Consistency: What is the price for consistency? Take Amazon for example. You know if you use Prime, you are guaranteed to have your package when you need it. With traditional speech therapy, there are often legitimate cancellations due to weather, traffic, illness and relocation. With telespeech, those disruptions are minimized. The result is greater progress over a shorter period of time, another cost saving benefit.

Cost-Effective: Saving time translates into saving money. But you can also save money by using your FSA or Health Savings Account (HSA) to pay for services using pretax dollars. Online speech therapy is considered a legitimate expense. If you choose to pay by credit card, the sessions can help you accrue points which convert to dollars, airline miles or gift cards, depending on the card you use.

Then there are the added perks to receiving services online. Working from a computer is engaging and interactive, even for adults. The process is super easy and very flexible with proven results. And we provide access to therapists where none may be available.

Add up the advantages, subtract the disadvantages, multiply the results and divide the costs over time.

Do the math and then ask yourself, “Can we really put a price on Gr8 communication?”

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Does my Child Need Speech Therapy?

To Call or Not To Call? That is the Question!

Sometimes I think children should be born with a playbook. Not that the experience of having older children does not count in child rearing. It’s just that each child is different and as a result our response to each one needs to be carefully tailored to match individual personalities.

As a trained speech and language pathologist, I am often approached by parents who are baffled by a child’s speech pattern. After all, their older child was vigorously verbalizing at the age of 12 months and their second is still grunting!

My first question is always, “Does your child need to speak?” After all, in our endless eagerness to express our love, we often take away a child’s need to speak. Older siblings and doting grandparents are often part of the cycle. If a child points to an object and everyone jumps to retrieve it, your child may be learning that language is optional and pointing is the key to communication. Before you pick up the phone and make an appointment with the speech therapist, here are a few routines to implement to encourage verbalization:

  1. Create a need. By giving a child the wrong item or asking questions and waiting for an answer, you are promoting opportunities for speech and conversation.
  2. Verbalize everything around you and use specific words. Avoid using this, that, here or there and there.
  3. Praise EVERY attempt to speak.
  4. Keep track of progress by creating a log. Take a piece of paper write the date and list ALL the words that your child uses. You can count consistent sounds they use for specific items as ‘words’. Keep the log in easy reach so you can add words each week.

If the list does not grow, it may be time to schedule a speech screening. Other indicators include a lack of connection to the environment, inability to follow simple directions like, “Come here please, “and frustration communicating. If all things are in order, then enjoy the silence….chattering cannot be far behind!

 

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How to Find a Learning Style That Fits Your Child’s Personality

It’s all too common for parents to say “I’m not a teacher.” That may be true in the traditional sense. But parents usually know their kids like no one else.

“I’m not a teacher when it comes to school,” says mom of two, Blagica Stefanovski Bottigliero. “But I am my child’s life teacher. It’s just a different way of teaching.”

Whether your child is an active mover, a diverse learner, a shy child who likes to blend into the background or a kid who wants everything to be flawless, here are some tips to help your child learn more effectively.

The Perfectionist

“Perfection is the enemy of done,” says Carl Hooker, an educational consultant. “I was one of those kids.”

One of the hardest things for the perfectionist is finding a stopping point. Find a mini goal in the middle of the project for a bigger project. “Maybe it’s getting through the first draft,” Hooker says. “Break it into smaller chunks so the child can say at least I accomplished this.”

When the final part of the project is nearing, remind your child of all the work they’ve put in and discuss how you are going to close this project and find a good ending point to turn it in.

“Then remind them, once you’ve submitted the work, even if it’s not perfect, any type of improvement you can make, any type of failure you made, can be discussed to help us on the next project,” Hooker says.

The Unmotivated Student

“Every kid has something they are interested in,” Hooker says. “For most of them it isn’t schoolwork.”

Find something that is motivating. Maybe it’s a TV show, going hiking or allowing them to choose dinner.

Once you know their motivational factor, tell them, “Listen, I’ve got a lot of work to do today, but if I can get through all my work and you get through all of your work, let’s set up that board game or play cards or take a bike ride.”

If a younger child isn’t interested in doing an activity, try using “first, then language.”

“First, we must do (insert disliked activity) and then we can do (insert activity they want to do),” says Avivit Ben-Aharon, founder of Great Speech.

For older kids, find smaller things that will get them excited as they work towards a longer-term goal. The key is being consistent and delivering on promises made.

The Distracted Learner

Create a visual schedule. Cut out pictures and photos that represent different activities a child should do throughout the day. Tape the pictures to a whiteboard.

It can be calming to see predictable routines that feel safe.

Create sensory breaks, says Wendy Oinonen, an occupational therapist. For little kids, have them do some heavy work by pushing a basket full of laundry on the floor by making it a race. Have children bend over to get their head below their waist to trigger their senses.

Create a swing to help calm your child by wrapping a blanket around a table, knotting it on top and let it swing underneath.

“Your child can crawl in and have a little quiet time,” Oinonen says. “A lot of research says children need 10- to 15-minute breaks each hour.”

The Anxious Child

“A lot of kids are having anxiety and stress around remote learning,” Oinonen says.

Setting daily goals and having a consistent schedule with check-off lists can really help, says high school teacher, James Conley.

“Parents need to keep their expectations in check,” Ben-Aharon says. “That really helps anxious kids who want to know what to expect.”

Keep lines of communication open, “but don’t be on top of them to where they feel like they’re not able to make autonomous decisions on their own.”

If it feels weird for the student to see their face on the video screen, turn off the video.

For younger children, consider using a Learning Tower, Davora Sides says. The wooden adjustable stool is like a vertical crib of sorts that allows the child to stand up and view a screen at countertop height, but they can still feel safe in an enclosed space.

The Quiet Kid

Online, first-grade teacher Michelle Gunderson says, many of the quiet students who are usually very hesitant and careful have blossomed thanks to the chat function of video calls.

Parents can help, she says, by advocating to the teacher about their child’s preferred communication method.

The Active, Fidgety Child

Have some tactical activities to keep a child’s hands busy while they are paying attention to the screen, says Sides. Look at manipulatives, such as Play-Doh, pipe cleaners or Wikki Stix that students can work with quietly while learning.

Swap a chair for a bouncy ball or get a rocking chair for kids who want to move. Or try an inflatable wobble cushion.

“We had one child who had a trampoline in front of their virtual station,” Sides says. “They would be bouncing the entire time, but it worked because they liked jumping up and were locked in place.”

During breaks in learning, try doing jumping jacks, run to the end of the driveway and back or jump rope.

“Kids need a physical outlet,” Ben-Aharon says.

This article also appeared in Chicago Parent’s August 2020 magazine

By

 

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Top Three Reasons to Bring Online Speech Therapy into Your School

Kids who qualify for speech therapy are entitled to receive FREE services through the public school.

It’s the law. Federal Law.

The problem is our country is experiencing a shortage of Speech and Language therapists.

We may not feel the impact in large metropolitan areas. But in rural areas or states where there are no speech and language graduate programs, the lack of qualified speech therapists is a major obstacle.

The solution?

Online speech therapy companies like Great Speech, are helping schools fulfill the mandate in a cost efficient, effective manner.

Why bring Great Speech into your school?

Flexible: Our licensed therapists can support both small and large caseloads. It is not cost effective for a school with a minimum number of students requiring services to hire a therapist. And therapists do not find it worthwhile to work in a school with small caseloads.

With Great Speech, size does not matter. We can service both large and small caseloads.

Efficient: Our TeleSpeech model is cost efficient and effective, saving time and money. Often we can pull five students out at one time and have them each work with their own therapist. In addition, we take the hiring burden off of the administration, a time consuming and often frustrating task by providing the right therapist for each child.

Interactive: Students respond to the innovative model while receiving quality services. All that is generally needed is a quiet space, a computer with good internet connection and an e-helper which can be a teacher, aide or volunteer to walk the student to the work area and supervise the logging in and logging out process.

And our services are not limited to traditional brick and mortar schools.

Medical needs, commuting issues, and social reasons like bullying, are just some of the reasons children are enrolling in the virtual school system.  And the schools are reaching out to online speech therapy services, like Great Speech, to fulfill the federal mandate. It’s an ideal model for students who are already proficient online learners.

We also work with social home school programs, where the children are under the home school umbrella but congregate regularly for social purposes and to share resources like online speech therapy.

Currently we are servicing schools in Florida Texas, Kansas and Tennessee. And the roster of schools are growing. Our students range from kindergarten students to seniors in high school and have been diagnosed with Down Syndrome, Autism, Bell’s Palsy and Cerebral Palsy. They have reading, math or language disorders.  Our therapists specialize in stuttering, auditory processing, executive functioning, articulation and more.

And the feedback?

“We have used Great Speech to provide speech services for select students within our interlocal for the past three years. The company has been extremely easy to work with. They are responsive to our requests…The greatest positive has been in the services provided. We have felt like we are providing quality speech services to our students with a delivery model that works.”

Miles Harvey, Assistant Director

Butler County Special Education

 

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Online Speech Therapy

Eight Great Reasons to Buy a Rubik’s Cube: Why Speech Therapists Are Using the Cube in Therapy Sessions

Some toys have true staying power. The Rubik’s cube has topped the list of best-selling toys of all times since its creation in 1974.

It’s amazing. Everywhere I go these days I see kids and adults playing with these 3-D combination puzzles, in all its various formats, from the traditional, to the two square and flat cube.

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So what contributes to its success and why buy one?

Reason #1: It’s fun and dynamic. You can figure it out on your own or you can grab a lifeline by watching a YouTube how-to video.  It merges the old philosophy of figuring it out for yourself with our new technological capacity to google for answers,

Reason #2: It’s the perfect social icebreaker. Take a cube to the park and within minutes you   are surrounded by others who either have cubes of their own or are willing share solutions.

Reason #3: As a speech therapist, I have found that this portable game has extensive cognitive and problem solving capabilities. It helps promote spatial relationships, can be used to teach patterns and even improves eye-hand coordination for children and grownups.

Other benefits include:

Reason #4: Increases your concentration and focus

Reason #5: Promotes development of a wider perception to the process of problem solving

Reason #6: Improves short term memory

Reason #7: Teaches life lessons including patience, perseverance and pride

Reason #8: Here is my favorite advantage. Completing the puzzle promotes optimism because “most day-to-day personal problems are easier to solve than a Rubik’s Cube.”

Suddenly $12.99 seems to be a worthwhile investment. Don’t you think?

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Three Tips to Promote Speech and Language Therapy over the Summer

Ask my children to name the two most anticipated words of the school year and they will unanimously say: Summer vacation

And the two most dreaded words: Summer Reading

The end of the school year and the beginning of summer vacation is a juxtaposition of extremes.   There is no transition from the rigorous routine of early morning wake up times, breakfast and carpools and after school activities, homework and bedtime to our summer break.

With the first day of vacation, those time sensitive pressures suddenly end. There are still carpools for day camp and a semblance of a routine. But with the extra hours of sunlight and lack of test schedules, the pressure is off.

Except for summer reading.

My children bemoan the dreaded summer reading list. As an experienced speech therapist, I understand the value.

Reading over the summer is incredibly important for students and their academic achievement.

The research is clear that children who don’t read during the summer can lose up to three months of reading progress and that loss has a cumulative, long-term effect.

The same is true for speech therapy.

Think about it. You diligently schedule speech therapy appointments during the school year and the momentum and consistency are huge factors in maximizing progress. And then summer vacation comes, and our school year routine comes to a halt.

But your child’s need for language development does not end with the school year. Working on children’s speech and language progress is a year-round priority. At a minimum, the goal of summer should be to maintain skills. Optimally, our children should start the new school year ahead of where they left off.

The beauty of TeleSpeech is the flexibility of time and place. If you go on vacation, you can take us with you, as long as you have Wi-Fi and a computer. The same is true if your child goes to sleep away camp. With a quick switch of the schedule and permission to use their laptop, the therapy sessions can continue: Different time, different place but same therapist and routine.

Here are three tips to help you build speech and language practice into summer activities:

Make it Fun: Online speech and language therapy is inherently cool with a built in technology factor. Our therapists are trained to kick-it up a notch, adding a summer coolness factor while cranking up the heat on skills,

Keep it Simple: Simplicity is important no matter what the season, but it takes on a new meaning during vacation or travel periods. Remember, the most powerful things in life – and in therapy – often are the simplest. If you are traveling, or trying to incorporate summer therapy sessions around camp schedules, let simplicity be the guide. The less complicated the logistics, the greater the chance for success.

Offer Incentives: Schools and libraries offer rewards for summer reading. Positive reinforcement helps promotes success. Every family has their own reward system. You know what works best for each of your children!

Spring, summer, fall or winter, our Great Speech therapists are available year-round to ensure consistency. Contact us today for more information.

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Online Speech Therapy

8 Tips for Promoting Online Learning Success for Your Children During COVID-19

It’s all about the setup. 

As the mom of four boys, ages 4-18, I have experienced firsthand the challenges of virtual learning during the last four months.

But as the founder of Great Speech, an online speech therapy platform, I have discovered how to maximize learning success by setting up the physical space as well as setting expectations. 

Here are my top eight tips. They have worked with my boys. They have worked for my clients. And I know you will find success with your own families.

1. Minimize Visual Distractions

Just like when doing homework, set up the physical space to minimize visual distractions. The less distractible objects available to play with, grab, pull, or touch during the online activity, the more focused your children will be, and the greater the chances for successful learning.

A desk and office chair work for some children. For others, a folding table or an inflatable wobble cushion enhances learning. Play around with your furniture choices until you find the right combination of table and chair. 

2. Maximize Concentration

Designate a physically quiet space to maximize concentration. Any background auditory distractions such as people walking around, cooking in the kitchen or talking on the phone is picked up during a Zoom meeting and can interfere with your child’s level of concentration. For some, incorporating headphones, especially noise-canceling ones, increases focus while minimizing auditory distractions.

3. Decide Which Technology Works Best

When possible, always choose a computer laptop or desktop over a tablet or a phone. The bigger screen allows for better engagement. Additionally, children associate the iPad with watching movies and playing games. By using a desktop or laptop computer, you are setting a more serious tone for the activity.

4. Set the Schedule

Set a schedule so your child knows when a session or activity is scheduled to begin and end. Sharing times helps set expectations and gives your child a feeling of control.

5. Coordinate Naps, Lunch and Early Risers

Identify when your child learns best and schedule virtual sessions when possible around your child’s optimum learning schedule. We have found most kids do their best learning in the earlier part of the day but it does vary with each child.

6. Praise Hard Work

Set up in advance a positive reinforcement or reward system for specific tasks and milestones. Match the reward to each child and vary the choices to keep the momentum. At the same time, discuss consequences for going off task. Structure can be super beneficial as long as it is realistic and implementable and setting expectations in advance avoids miscommunication and diminished results.

Side note: It’s best not to use computer time as a positive or negative reinforcement in this age of virtual learning. It’s difficult to take away computer time when children need to be on the computer for school. 

7. Involve Yourself in the Process

Monitor the learning session from afar and let your child know you will be checking in. While virtual learning is often viewed as an independent activity, it’s important for your child to know you will be checking in regularly to observe the process.

8. Help Your Kids ‘Own’ It

Probably my most important recommendation is involving your children in the planning as much as possible. Particularly with older children, there is a strong sense of ownership when they are included in the process. 

And ownership is a major component in promoting success.

Are You Looking for Help with Speech Therapy While Your Kids are at Home?

Great Speech is ready to support your children at home during their virtual learning. Our individualized and interactive programs are ready to go. You can start speech therapy at home today.

Telepractice allows us to deliver professional services from another location. We are excited to have the ability to provide services during this time. Schedule an introductory call today.

 

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Key Questions to Ask Your Speech Pathologist Before a Therapy Session

The decision to see a speech-language pathologist is never an easy one to make, but it’s always in the best interest of the patient. Early intervention for children as young as the age of three can make a difference in the coming years.

Once you’ve decided to see a speech-language pathologist, you probably have a lot of questions! So what are some great questions to ask before your first therapy session? How do you know if you’ve found a stellar speech-language pathologist?

Keep reading to find out these answers to these questions and more.

What is A Speech-Language Pathologist?

Speech-language pathologists work with both adults and children who have trouble speaking clearly and other communication disorders. They also can diagnose and assess those who suffer from speech problems.

Some issues speech-language pathologists work with are:

  • Stuttering
  • Language
  • Communication sounds
  • Swallowing
  • Eating

This is not an exhaustive list, as a speech-language pathologist might work with a variety of communication disorders.

Seven Questions to Ask Before Your Therapy Session

If you’ve never seen a speech-language pathologist before, you might be curious about what to expect. Here are some questions to address.

1. Credentials

Before you select any type of medical professional, you want to scope out their credentials. Things like:

  • How long have they been in practice
  • What degrees they’ve earned and any certifications or licensing
  • What type of patients do they see
  • Are they certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association or ASHA
  • Are they a specialist in any area
  • What is their approach to speech therapy
  • Do you work individually or on with a team
  • What has been your experience with people who suffer from a specific speech impediment

Questions like these help you develop an overall picture of the therapist, their education, and experience in the field.

2. Fees

Nearly any therapy you attend will have fees or cost associated. The best thing to do is to ask the therapist what their fees are and if they accept insurance.

Insurance companies will vary across the board as to how they cover any type of speech therapy. Some may cover it fully, but typically there are limitations. Get in contact with your insurance company to find out the specifics.

It’s also possible to work out a payment arrangement with the therapist at the time. Ask them when fees are due and how they take payment. Discuss your unique situation with them to see if you can come to a payment agreement if you’re having financial difficulty.

3. Contact Information

It’s important to know how to contact the therapist if you need to, especially if you have more questions or a need. Find out their preferred method of contact – email, texting, calling – and write down numbers in your phone or write them down in a way that’s easy to remember and accessible.

4. Session Environment

Coming into a new office or clinic can be a little uneasy, especially for children. They may feel scared or anxious in a new environment and be hesitant to participate in therapy because of it.

If possible, see if you can visit the office or clinic first to test the waters. Ask your therapist if this is appropriate and possible.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions while you’re there: What will the sessions be like? Can you watch or should you wait in another area? How long will the therapy session take?

5. Goals

When someone decides to enter speech therapy, the therapist will assess them first and then write out a plan for treatment complete with goals they wish to accomplish.

Once the therapist knows and understands the needs of the patient, you can ask about these specific goals. Questions like, how does this practice help to reach the goal, or how did you decide this treatment is right for the patient.  Staying curious about why certain techniques are practiced during therapy gives you insight so you can practice at home.

5. How Can I Support?

Especially for a child, parental involvement is key to therapy success. It’s important to reiterate and practice skills learned during a therapy session in real life. This way, the skills stick and the child can improve.

Asking your therapist how you can support your child (or another adult!) outside of therapy walls is critical. Be sure to inquire about what resources, techniques, or other methods you can be implemented at home.

Your therapist will likely be enthusiastic about this and offer plenty of ideas because it shows you take therapy, and skill-building, seriously. They may even recommend group therapies or support groups outside of one-on-one time.

6. Length of Therapy

Because each patient’s challenges differ, the length of therapy will vary from person to person. This means that one patient may be in therapy for a few months, while some therapy sessions can last several years.

In the beginning, it’s hard to assess exactly the duration of the therapy; much of it depends on the patient, their specific case, and how well they improve. Severe cases may take longer, and those who resist therapy, or do not respond well, will likely have a lengthier time.

7. Progress

You don’t want to be attending therapy without knowing if it’s working. Be sure to inquire about how the therapist communicates progress with you, such as writing up a progress report or chart, to document changes during therapy sessions.

Seeing A Speech-Language Pathologist

Your first therapy session can be a little intimidating and nerve-wracking, but by asking the right questions and finding the right therapist, you can have a sense of calm and preparedness.

Are you searching for a speech therapist? We’ve got you covered! Visit our scheduler today for a free consultation.

 
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Is This Normal? The Top Five Most Frequently Asked Questions about Speech Therapy

It’s an interesting phenomenon.

The calls for online speech therapy services originate from all over the world. And yet the content of the questions is surprisingly similar.

Here are the top five questions the Great Speech team answers on a regular basis:

At what age should my child speak and how will I know whether they need speech therapy or not?

Speech and language development is a process and begins with cooing and  babbling before progressing to vocalizing sounds, then words, phrases and sentences.

It is important to share with your pediatrician if your baby is making no attempt to vocalize. Equally important signs include avoiding eye contact, not smiling, laughing or engaging socially with others. These are important milestones and early intervention is crucial to prevent potential developmental delays.

The babysitter speaks to my child in Spanish. My mother speaks to her in Russian and my husband and I speak to her in English.  Can exposure to so many languages contribute to a language delay in my child?

Some professionals believe that exposure to a multitude of languages at an early age is enviable. But it may not work for every child. Language acquisition is highly individualized. Many babies find it difficult to learn and process multiple languages at the same time. It is important for you to monitor your child. If they are not developing language milestones, then a conversation with your pediatrician and a referral to a speech therapist is essential. The therapist can assess the situation and make recommendations which best match the needs of your child and the structure of your household.

My older daughter spoke in full sentences at age two but my son is still babbling. Is this normal?

Is this normal? is probably the most frequently asked question in my practice. Normal is so very individualized. Some kids walk early and some talk early. As parents, we have a tendency to compare our children, one to another. Instead, stay focused on the progression of your son’s verbal skills. Increase your conversation with him, sing to him and give him tons of reinforcement. If you are concerned about his language development, initiate a conversation with your pediatrician but avoid the comparison with your daughter. Each child should be assessed on his or her own merit.

What is the right age for speech therapy? When it too early and when is it too late?

There is no right age for speech therapy since speech therapy focuses on so many different skills: speech, language, social and organizational. Sound acquisition has a developmental hierarchy. When a speech therapist assess a child, we are assessing based on age-related milestone. There are sounds that develop early like pa and ba. And there are sounds that develop later like the R sound. Early intervention is crucial but the exact age for early intervention differs based on the sound or skill you are trying to correct. If a baby is not babbling, smiling or making eye contact, early intervention could start as early as a few months of age. For a lisp, trouble with the R sound and stuttering, the age for intervention is at a later age and is highly dependent on your child’s motivation, desire to make the change, ability to follow directions and hear the differences as well as motor control and coordination.

Speech therapy on a computer?  How could TeleSpeech possible be effective?

TeleSpeech is not only effective for the treatment of many speech-related issues, it is extremely efficient. By eliminating travel time or weather-related disruption, you can maximize results. TeleSpeech also makes speech therapy accessible to everyone, no matter where they (both the client and the therapist) live.

With online speech therapy, you have access to the services of a licensed therapist in the privacy of your home or business at a mutually convenient time. And it is fun and interactive.

Convinced? Click HERE and watch us in action.

 

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Gr8 Lessons Learned from the Supermarket

Grocery shopping- a thankless job that appears on our to-do list weekly.

But what if we could take this task and turn it into an activity that benefits our children?

Suddenly, a mundane task becomes altruistic, creative and something beneficial we do for the sake of our children. So with list in hand and kids in tow, you pull up to the grocery store. Depending on the age of your children, assign them each a number of items to locate, either verbally or by having them create their own list. Bravo! You have introduced the concept of sequencing or creating an ordered list.

Speech therapy as a way to improve language development

Ask them to estimate the cost of each item, a great math (and reality) lesson and then let them shop, either on their own or by your side. Have them read the aisle signs and let them figure out in which aisles their items are located. Then have them cross off the item on the list once it is in the basket. Teach them to group items as they unload them from the cart to the conveyer belt at checkout for easier unpacking at home, a Gr8 organizing skill. Unloading and unpacking at home reinforces that skill, with like items grouped together in the pantry and refrigerator.

Whew, sounds exhausting but look at the skills you have reinforced or introduced…sequencing, reading, estimating and organizing, all for the price of your shopping list!

Sure it is way faster for you to shop on your own. But after the first few times, as your children familiarize themselves with the supermarket, shopping can become a pleasure (and a shared task!)

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