If your child is not quite school age and in need of speech therapy services, they are most likely getting it from private therapy, either at a facility or in home. However, there are therapeutic preschools that are great resources to expose your child to all aspects of speech and language. During their time within the classroom, speech is integrated in the actual learning process.
A large part of therapeutic preschools is the concept of play. Speech therapy can be taught through watching, listening, exploring, and imitation. During the classroom play, the children watch the therapists use their mouth to speak. They also watch the expressions and emotions that the therapist’s use. Children will watch how the therapists express their body language when they communicate and learn more about how to use their own. When a child is listening, they are hearing the sounds the therapists make, as well as the words they pronounce and their sentence structure. Exploration combines these two concepts together; while the therapists are giving them examples of these sounds and words, they are right next to them as they play. While the children are exploring, the therapist is talking to them and playing with them, and the child is watching and listening to them. Although these are all great concepts to implement in the therapeutic classroom setting, imitation is one of the most important concepts. Imitating lays down the groundwork for your child’s speech, language, communication, and social skills. In a therapeutic preschool setting, your child will not imitate the therapist, but they will also learn skills and imitate from their classmates as well.
During the classroom session, each child has a specific list of goals that are targeted by the therapist. These goals can be articulation, pragmatic development, or daily routines. Therapists use open-ended toys to evoke the most successful play. These are toys that usually don’t have batteries, so the child is in charge of how the toy works. This way, the child can direct the play and language of that certain activity, and the therapist can follow their lead. Therapists also set up open-ended play settings, which can maximize their language skills and introduce them to a variation of vocabulary and concepts. Examples of these settings include putting cars on a track, playing in a pretend kitchen, or a pretend post office. Because the classroom size is fairly small, your child will be able to get more practice on those targets to reach their maximum growth. Therapists also take advantage of the group setting within the classroom. There are many activities that the therapists use that needs social participation and the use of spontaneous social language.
Children in therapeutic preschools have plenty of exposure to communication and language skills. When a child is enrolled in a therapeutic preschool, they are exposed to immense language growth, as well as social communication and interactions. This added speech therapy will advance your child in their pronunciation, word usage, and sentence structure.
Click on the purple button below or call 773-620-7800 to learn more about CST Academy, Chicago’s #1 Therapeutic Preschool Program.