How To Engage Kids When Transitioning to Speech





This was the word that I would repeat most often as I transitioned students from their classroom to the speech room for small group therapy. Depending on where the students' classrooms were in the building, this transition could easily be a five-minute process.

Kids, and anyone really, do not want to spend that time in silence. So they talk, twirl in circles, walk backward, and do a myriad of other taboo hallway activities. I needed to find a way to make use of our hallway time as therapy time and keep kids engaged. But how?

When I thought about what makes a lecture great, or a speech phenomenal, one element always seems to be present... stories. Stories keep people listening. They keep kids from wandering off in the halls. They become natural ways to ask and answer questions. They present topics for conversation.

Stories not only keep students close to you in terms of proximity but also in terms of focus. What better way to help kids transition to their specialized services than to engage them in a story?

There are multiple ways to use stories as a transition activity including:

Tell a personal story

Using a quiet voice, tell about an experience including what you did, where you were, how you felt and how it was resolved. Ask students questions about the story and then ask them to retell the events.

Recall a dream

Tell others about a dream that you had. Make sure to point out the odd or absurd things that occurred. Ask students to relate by telling about a dream of their own.

Imagine the future

Create a story based on what you think might happen in the future. Ask students questions about the story and then ask them what would need to happen for this to become reality.

Discuss what you did in your last session

Take time to go over what you did together in your last small group session. Include all of the events, as well as details. Ask students how they felt about different areas and what they learned.

Recount a nonfiction story

Teach your students about history by explaining something that has actually happened. Tell them about a significant historical event and why it is important to learn. Ask questions and then have students retell the story.

Create a fiction story

Fiction stories can be made up as you go or can be learned from books, myths, or fables. Choose a quick story with a beginning, middle, and end. Then have students retell the events and answer questions.

I have even created a Story of the Week because I desperately wanted my students to transition quietly in the hall. I knew that although on some days I had the mental energy to create a story, on very few days could I recall what I had just said for more than a few minutes. As we travel in the hall, I read the story to the students. The students hold the photographs that accompany the story as they walk as a transition item. Upon entering the speech room, our first activity is to practice sequencing, retelling, vocabulary, and grammar.

No matter what you choose to do, make the most of your transition times. Don’t lose those five to ten minutes to non-speech activities. There are so many ways to take advantage of this time!

Cheri Dodge Chin is a practicing school-based SLP and doctoral student. She is a national presenter and creator of one of the first and longest running speech therapy blogs in the world, Super Power Speech. In her free time, you can find her running, watching movies with her two teens or reading three books at the same time (in front of the fire, while crocheting).

She is also a featured guest on The Speech Link:

To view Cheri's interview with Char Boshart on The Speech Link, click the link below, or visit our website:

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