How to Help Speech Impaired Preschoolers in Therapy

How to Help Speech Impaired Preschoolers in Therapy

You can help speech impaired preschoolers in therapy. Even if they are multiply impaired, scoring from below the 1st %ile to the 10th %ile! The key is to work on functional skills within many activities. 

There may be a lot to learn when you first get started, but it is worth the effort when you make an impact on such young lives.  Check out these tips that will help you be successful in working with multiply impaired preschoolers.

make preschool therapy easier with these tips

I loved working with preschool! The kids had lots of needs and took a lot of energy, but they were so cute. It is a vital time to provide speech therapy since you can have such a big impact. Not only on your students but on how the whole family can function. And if you have parented a preschooler, you surely understand how big a difference that basic communication skills can make.

SLP Tip 1 for Preschoolers: Plan lots of short activities with a central theme to repeat language being modeled.

Planning Sessions for Preschoolers

Preschoolers, in general, don’t have very long attention spans. When you combine this with other learning problems, you’d be wise to have a lot of back up ideas for each session!

Bubbles, playdoh, and favorite toys are items that all preschool SLPs keep on hand. It helps to send out a quick questionnaire to parents at the beginning of the school year to find out what interests your new students have.


Plan to use materials that go with a central theme. If your students are in full-day preschool, it really helps to coordinate your theme with the one that the special education teacher is using.  That way, students are exposed to the same vocabulary and concepts throughout the week.

Incorporate a book that is based on the theme.  This helps to develop literacy skills while eliciting language. Try to find books that have big pictures and simple repetitive text.  Then plan a few hands-on activities and games related to the plot. A basic plan that works!

Do you work with preschoolers?  Then shop garage sales to build a collection of toys related to your themes.

Toys for Preschoolers

Using toys related to the story serves several purposes. More practice with the vocabulary, sentence structures, or sounds in the words occurs in a natural way. Playing the plot of the story helps kids to understand the language in the book while building play schemas.

Combining books with play helps kids to see that books are fun, which is helpful for developing literacy skills. When students understand the language and plot, they become more interested in the book.  And they will also attend longer! It is a win-win all around.

Have I convinced you yet? Start shopping garage sales, thrift shops, and, of course, the dollar bins at Target. Pick up any hands-on items that relate to your favorite therapy books and themes.

Do yyou work with preschoolers? Find great repetitive books that will target basic language and early speech sounds.

Books for Preschoolers

It is so helpful when the books have a repetitive refrain! That is the basic level for understanding and retelling story narratives.  Students will remember the refrain and join in, giving that extra practice for speech sounds and language goals.  It is easy to play, as it often involves one main activity with lots of characters.

Additionally, at this level, the pictures usually match the text exactly, so that your kids will see what they hear and comprehend it more quickly.

Do you work with preschoolers?

Themes for Preschool Therapy at Home

If you are working in a home setting, using a central therapy theme of  ‘around the house’ is a no-brainer. It will help the child be able to communicate better with the family.  Additionally, it will let you build carryover with the parents easily by demonstrating how to elicit the skills as part of the daily home routine.

Do you work with preschoolers? Use seasonally based themes to build skills for preschool classrooms.

Seasonal Topics for Preschoolers

If you are working with young children who go to a preschool, you can’t go wrong using seasonal themes. Every preschool I’ve ever visited uses seasonal/time events as part of their curriculum. So many skills can be worked on through basic season, holiday, and category themes. Time is such a difficult concept for students with learning problems to comprehend!

If you really want carryover, try to tie what you are doing in with the theme the preschool teacher is using that week/month.  There will be so many opportunities for practice, and it will help your students be more active participants in the activities!

Do you work with preschoolers? Then Build pklay skills to the next level and help develop language skills.

Play for Preschoolers

I can’t stress enough how important it is to look at a student’s play skills along with their communication skills. If you see a student with advanced play skills but little verbalization, I would bet you will find that they have more expressive language problems than receptive!

My students in preschool were delayed in multiple areas, so I found it to be a wonderful therapy technique to work on language, articulation, and play skills at the same time.  It takes a little practice to figure out what you can elicit with the toys you have on hand, but hands-on activities are so important for little ones!

The iPad has provided a multitude of fun activities that truly capture children’s attention, but it is still important to see what level of play skills your student has. Higher level students may not as big of a concern.  However, note that students with multiple problems will not gain a variety of cause-effect and higher-level cognitive and language skills only from touching or pressing on a flat surface, from my experience. Balance the apps with the hands-on!

Do you work with preschoolers? Crafts are fun for carrying over recently taught speech and language skills.

To Craft?  Or Not?

This one may be controversial to you since we all love our craftivities, but please read on!  Higher-level preschoolers, with mild delays in a minimal number of areas, will learn when provided the right kind of stimulation no matter what the activity.

When working with lower functioning preschoolers who have multiple areas of need, making a craft is the icing on the cake that is so fun to use to generalize the skills you have been addressing!

When students are very impaired, all of the fine motor skills involved in doing crafts can involve so much of their attention and processing skills that they are not able to do that and learn the language at the same time.  Have these students do a craft after they have learned to label, request, and understand the language forms involved. Then crafts are both fun and a great way to generalize!

Working with preschoolers, you can never have enough visuals!

Did you get these FREE room picture labels at my store yet? They are very useful for organizing with little ones!

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I’m Linda, an SLP who loves helping you build effective communication skills for your students using strategies and visuals. Pictures are time consuming, so let me make your life easier!

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