When some people hear “Speech Therapy”, they think of a service that might help their child use words more to communicate or improve how clearly their child pronounces certain sounds.
And while that’s certainly true, Speech Therapy can improve a child’s skills in several different areas that can actually boost his or her academic performance.
In a nutshell, Speech Therapy helps improve a child’s communication skills. And communication is essential for learning.
Over 10% of children have a communication disorder; making it one of the most common disabilities among children.
Among communication disorders, some of the most common issues that can affect children in school are:
- Articulation/Phonological Disorders: difficulty in pronouncing certain sounds.
- Expressive Language Disorders: trouble using words or formulating sentences to communicate, difficulty using certain grammatical rules.
- Receptive Language Disorders: difficulty comprehending words, questions, or directions, trouble processing spoken information.
- Stuttering: repeating or stretching out words while speaking.
- Social/Pragmatic Delays: trouble understanding and using social skills to interact with others and expressing emotions appropriately.
- Language and Literacy Disorders: reading and writing difficulties.
- Cognitive Communication Disorders: decreased thinking skills. For example, executive functioning skills (planning, organizing, reasoning).
Children who have an articulation or phonological disorder have difficulty pronouncing certain sounds. For example, a child may say “tat” for “cat” or “pider” for “spider”.
This can make it hard for teachers and other students to understand what a child is trying to communicate within the classroom. By 4 years-old, a child’s speech should be understood at least 90% of the time by others.
Articulation disorders can impact a child both socially and academically.
When a child’s speech is difficult to understand, he or she might not raise their hand as often to participate during class interactions. An articulation disorder can also make it difficult for the child to interact with peers within the class, like when collaborating on group projects.
Academically, mispronunciations could potentially be marked as errors in tasks such as letter naming and reading out loud.
Speech Therapy can help a child correctly pronounce certain speech sounds that he or she has trouble with. That can improve their speech intelligibility (how well others can understand him or her), so the child can be more clearly understood in the classroom.
Lifting Literacy Skills
According to research, children with developmental speech and language disorders are at a higher risk for a reading disability.
For pre-readers and beginning readers, Speech Therapy can help improve phonological awareness skills (awareness of sounds and how to manipulate them), which are considered essential for learning to read.
Struggling readers may benefit from working on a phonics-based reading program with a Speech Therapist. The Orton-Gillingham program is a language-based, multisensory, structured approach to reading that can be implemented by a Speech Therapist.
Children can also strengthen reading comprehension skills in Speech Therapy. A Speech-Language Pathologist can help teach your child strategies to facilitate comprehension, like re-reading passages or taking notes.
Executive Functioning: Improving Memory, Attention, and Organization
Remembering facts you learned in biology, completing a complicated math problem in the right sequence, organizing a written story. Speech Therapy can help children complete tasks like these by improving executive functioning skills!
What are executive functions? A set of cognitive skills that are important in learning.
One of those skills is attention. If a child has trouble concentrating on a task, gets distracted easily, or doesn’t always pay attention to details when completing schoolwork, he or she might benefit from Speech Therapy.
Here are some examples of goals a child can work towards in Speech Therapy to improve Executive Functioning skills:
- Use self-monitoring strategies, like proof-reading their work and asking for help with difficult tasks.
- Tell an organized story, using pictures to help visualize and describe a beginning, middle, and end.
- Complete problem solving tasks.
- Improve time management by using strategies such as writing a plan or To-Do checklist for completing tasks on time and referring back to it while working.
Improving Social Skills & Overall Attitude Towards School
Making friends, having conversations, and interacting appropriately with peers does not come naturally to all children. And difficulties with social skills like these can result in challenges within the classroom.
The good news? Speech Therapy can also help improve a child’s social skills, which can in turn help his or her overall academic performance! Here’s how:
Positive attitude, more motivation to learn! When children are able to successfully make friends by learning social rules in Speech Therapy (like how to start a conversation or stay on topic), he or she is more likely to go to school with a positive attitude.
Better behavior. Social skills instruction can teach a child Theory of Mind (taking someone else’s point of view). That can improve classroom behavior, leaving more time to focus on academics!
Studies have proven that poor social skills can lead to lower test scores. Speech therapy can help prevent that by boosting a child’s understanding and use of appropriate skills to use with their peers and teacher at school!
How to Seek Speech Therapy
If you have concerns that your child’s academic performance is affected by difficulties with sound articulation, reading difficulties, trouble with executive functioning skills, or delayed social skills, consider seeking an evaluation with a Speech-Language Pathologist.
TherapyWorks offers Speech Therapy with Speech-Language Pathologists experienced in helping children improve language, speech, cognitive, and social skills to boost their overall academic performance.