Welcome to Center School's

          Speech and Language Department  

    What Is Speech and Language Therapy?

    Speech and language therapy is a related service that is offered to students who meet state and national special education eligibility criterion.

    Speech-Language Pathologists are people who are dedicated to ensuring that students have the language and speech skills to access to the curriculum in their classroom. 


    How Does a Student Receive Speech and Language Therapy?

    If students demonstrate speech or language difficulties in the classroom, the teacher or parent will sometimes request a screening or an evaluation to determine if the speech and language difficulties are impacting the student's ability to access the general education curriculum. The series of events that follows is determined by the team chairperson, and guided by the concerns of the parent and teacher. 


    What Does A Speech-Language Pathologist Teach?

    After the student is determined to be eligible for speech and language services, the Speech-Language Pathologist will make a set of goals and objectives that address the students' areas of need. These goals may include teaching the student how to follow directions (receptive language),or teaching the student how to express their needs and ideas with more age-appropriate language (expressive language). 

    As the student gets older, the Speech-Language Pathologist may address written expression, as well. Sometimes, a student will need to be taught how to produce speech sounds, so that they can clearly communicate their ideas to their peers and teachers.

    Vocabulary development, fluency, and social skill development are also areas that Speech-Language Pathologists may address. 
    Sometimes, a student needs to be taught how to play with sounds through activities like rhyming, which helps the student to develop the ability to manipulate sounds in words. 
    What Does Speech and Language Therapy in the Schools Look Like?

    Speech-Language therapy in the schools is much different than in hospitals or rehabilitation clinics. 
    Although some students may demonstrate difficulties that a Speech-Language Pathologist in a hospital might recommend be treated, the school Speech-Language Pathologist can only work with students when the speech and language difficulties impede the student from participating in the general curriculum for their grade. 

    The Speech-Language Pathologist might work with a student in his or her classroom, or the services may happen out of the classroom. Some services are delivered individually, while others are done in a small group.
    Why Are Speech and Language Skills SO Important?

    Speech and language skills are so important because they provide a foundation for learning how to read and write. Children with a history of delayed speech and language development, or difficulty with producing and hearing sounds in words, are considered to be "at risk" for developing a difficulty with reading (commonly referred to as a learning disability).


    How Do I Encourage My Child To Talk?

    Children learn to talk and understand talking by practicing. Many parents do practice language with their children naturally, every day. You can encourage your child to practice language skills by:

    · Making your child use his or her words to request things.
    · Asking your child to tell you about his or her day.
    · Asking your child to re-tell you a book that you have read together.
    · Expanding what your child says by adding a word or two.
    · Asking your child to repeat your longer sentences.
    · Answering your child's questions about the world with words and sentences that are at or slightly above their level.
    · Playing rhyming, singing, or word games.
    · Playing following directions games.
    · Explaining what new words mean and using the words frequently.


    How Do I Help My Child Produce Clearer Speech?

    Some children will produce speech sounds incorrectly, but it does not impact their ability to be understood or make progress in school. It can take up to 8 years for children to master all the speech sounds in the English language. You can encourage your child to improve his speech by:
    · Using your best speech.
    · Letting your child know when you didn't understand them.

    It is important to think carefully before correcting your child's speech sounds. This can actually cause some children to speak less. 
    Some children are able to accept corrections from their parents and are able to produce the sounds correctly when asked. In these cases, it might be okay to pick one sound to focus on at a time and "play" with the sound. 

    You might try:
    · Pointing out words when on a car ride that begin with your child's "special sound";
    · Ask your child to repeat words from a book that have the "special sound";
    · Point to your own mouth when you make the "special sound".

    Remember to keep practice fun and lighthearted. Again, it is completely normal for typically developing children to take until age 8 to produce all speech sounds like adults do. If your child is not able to produce all the speech sounds, but seems to be typically developing in other areas and is making progress in school, he or she simply may not be ready to yet. 

    How do I help my child follow directions better?

    There are many reasons why children may not follow directions as we would expect them to. Sometimes, children may not understand all the words in a direction. Some children may have difficulty remembering all the words or steps in a direction. Some children demonstrate the ability to remember all the words or steps, but cannot sequence the actions to complete the direction. It is important to remember that some children are working with "language processors" that work more slowly than other children's. Think of it as having a Pentium I processing chip in your PC when you are trying to run a program that requires a Pentium III! Your choices are to give the machine more time to complete the process, or upgrade. Children "upgrade" to faster processing naturally, but it takes time and is a gradual process. Becoming good at listening and understanding words can take time.

    Adults can help children follow directions, or understand language, better by:

    · Repeat what was said slowly, with less words, or in "chunks" ("Get your shoes and meet me at the front door" could be "First, get your shoes. [pause for the child to think about this step] Then, meet me at the front door.")

    · Pair your verbal directions with visual models of what you want the child to do. When we show kids what words mean and directions look like, they usually learn more quickly.

    · Have your child tell you what they are going to do after you give a direction, using their own words.

    · Be sure you have the child's attention first. Tell your child "I'm going to ask (or tell) you something, are you listening?" Wait until they look at you before you speak to them. If they appear not to have understood, have them repeat the question.

    · Play word memory games. Tell the child three words in the morning and see if they can remember them at night. 

    · Play direction following games. Try "Simon Says" and make it more difficult by adding words like "before", "after", "if", "over", "under", and "beside". Add describing words to increase the direction length. 

    · When reading stories, feel comfortable repeating books. This is how children become familiar with understanding story format, and it gives them experience with learning new words. Ask "Do you know what _______ means?". 

    · Teach and encourage your child to ask for repetition or clarification if he or she hasn't understood the direction. 

    · Play "What's Wrong?" by asking silly questions that make your child listen to words and make sense of them. For example, you could ask "Is the sky green?" and then have your child answer yes or no. Another example is to make absurd sentences like "Cats bark" and ask you child to make the sentence correct. 

    · Play "I Spy". Describe an object slowly, giving one clue at a time. This requires children to retain auditory clues, merge the information, and make educated guesses based on the information. A variation is to play "20 Questions" which helps your child to become better at asking specific questions to get more information.

    Speech and Language
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    For questions or comments about information on this page:


    Kindergarten Speech and Language Therapist:
    Mary Lynn Freedman mfreedman@hopkinton.k12.ma.us

    First Grade Speech and Language Therapist: 
    Maureen Harris