Digital games can increase motivation, help parents with practice and improve therapy outcomes.
The role of home practice
“How did the homework go this week?”
If you’re a parent whose child attends speech therapy, you’ve likely heard this question before.
If you’re a Speech Pathologist, you know that the worksheet you provided for home practice is rarely returned.
You’re therefore unsure if your client really did practice their speech sounds this week. Or if they did, what their performance was really like.
Children with speech sound disorders usually receive speech therapy once a week or a fortnight.
Home practice in between these sessions helps a child make better progress due to the increased dosage of therapy.
So how do you get your clients to complete more home practice? While there are plenty of activities parents can do to encourage speech, ‘gamification’, the use of games to increase engagement, might be a powerful answer.
When children complete speech homework through technology-based games, they’re more interested, have fun, and practice more often.1
More frequent home practice also means parents are more likely to be involved! And that’s been shown to improve a child’s results.2
More motivation to practice
Parents may understand the benefits of having their child complete speech homework, but let’s face it, between therapy appointments, school, and extra-curricular activities, getting your child to do “work” during their downtime at home can be hard.
The good news? Practicing speech at home doesn’t have to be a chore!
Using games on a home computer or tablet for speech therapy has been proven to have a positive impact on a child’s motivation and satisfaction.3
More motivation means a child will be more easily persuaded to complete speech home practice, and will practice more often.
It doesn’t stop there. Using a fun, game-based program like Speech Frog, can ensure that your child is actively engaged when completing home practice.
It helps them pay attention and concentrate, which can improve their performance on the speech activities.4
Engaged and pleased parents
Gamifying speech home practice benefits parents too!
Fitting speech homework into a parent’s busy life can be a challenge and games are simple and easy to remember to complete.
They can also be easily organised and help reduce clutter. No more lost homework pages or ripped worksheets left around the house.
When parents collaborate with a Speech Pathologist on their child’s therapy, there are positive effects on the child’s language outcomes.2
Unfortunately, the bottom line is that many well-meaning parents are unsure what their role is in therapy, or may be unclear on how to complete the practice activities.
A recent study reported that when it comes to completing speech homework, “some (parents) reported that it was difficult when the SLT (Speech Language Therapist) did not consider the context of family life and provided suggestions that they considered were unreasonable”.5
Speech practice games can be easily incorporated into life at home, and when you combine that with the ability to accelerate their child’s progress, that makes for very happy parents.
Better therapy results
As a Speech Pathologist, I want to see better therapy results for my clients.
Games and app-based therapy programs have been proven to help clients make satisfactory gains.6
That means my client’s speech skills are improving, parents are pleased with the progress, and my therapy program is effective.
Speech Pathologists have busy schedules, and commonly see several clients back to back throughout a single day.
They may not assign homework because the fact is, sometimes there just isn’t enough time to prepare it.
Locating materials, making copies, and providing instructions to the child and parent on how to complete the activity can be time consuming.
Gamifying speech home practice helps the Speech Pathologist streamline homework assignments. It cuts down on prep time and reduces materials needed (including the costs associated with them).
Children are also excited to play online games, which maintains their positive attitude when attending in-person speech sessions. It’s a win-win!
More motivation. Pleased parents. Better therapy results. For children, parents, and Speech Pathologists, gamifying speech therapy home practice makes sense.
Amy Yacoub, MS, CCC-SLP
- Beena Ahmed, Penelope Monroe, Adam Hair, Chek Tien Tan, Ricardo Gutierrez-Osuna & Kirrie J. Ballard (2018) Speech-driven mobile games for speech therapy: User experiences and feasibility, International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 20:6, 644-658, DOI: 10.1080/17549507.2018.1513562
- Roberts, M. Y. and Kaiser, A. P., 2011, The effectiveness of parent‐implemented language interventions: a meta‐analysis. American Journal of Speech–Language Pathology, 20, 180–199. https://doi.org/10.1044/1058-0360(2011/10-0055)
- Matej Zajc, Andreja Istenič Starčič, Maja Lebeničnik & Mateja Gačnik (2018) Tablet game-supported speech therapy embedded in children’s popular practices, Behaviour & Information Technology, 37:7, 693-702, DOI:10.1080/0144929X.2018.1474253
- Umanski, Daniil & Kosters, Walter & Verbeek, Fons & Schiller, Niels. (2008). Integrating computer games in speech therapy for children who stutter.
- Klatte, I.S., Lyons, R., Davies, K., Harding, S., Marshall, J., McKean, C. and Roulstone, S. (2020), Collaboration between parents and SLTs produces optimal outcomes for children attending speech and language therapy: Gathering the evidence. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders. doi:10.1111/1460-6984.12538
- Ballard KJ, Etter NM, Shen S, Monroe P, Tien Tan C. Feasibility of Automatic Speech Recognition for Providing Feedback During Tablet-Based Treatment for Apraxia of Speech Plus Aphasia. Am J Speech Lang Pathol. 2019;28(2S):818-834. doi:10.1044/2018_AJSLP-MSC18-18-0109