When I was ready to reenter the workforce after staying at home for 9 months with my second child, I knew that the traditional brick-and-mortar school job just wasn’t going to work for my family. I needed something more flexible. Getting my (then) baby and 3-year-old out of the door to make it to work by 8am (or earlier…eek!) was a daunting thought. Maybe it was finally time for me to take a more serious look into teletherapy. So, I did.
I interviewed confidently, accepted a contract excitedly, and then sat at my computer like a deer in headlights. Now what?! I had enough “speech” materials in bins to set up a small shelter in the garage, but none of them were digital. Not a single one. I had toys and games and natural aided language boards, articulation worksheets, low tech AAC, and file folder activities. My materials for in-person therapy were fantastic, but they were not going to work for teletherapy. It was time to get creative.
I spent hours upon hours scouring the internet for engaging materials that utilized evidence-based practices. I needed something for middle and high school students that focused on the goals I had yet to see for the students on my caseload. No pressure, right? As it turned out, the genius materials that I found at 2 am were not so genius the next day. The first few weeks of teletherapy were exhausting, and therapy planning took longer than the therapy itself. Something had to give.
Annotation on Zoom helped. Providing students with Remote Access to control the mouse helped. I still spent much too much time on planning and finding materials.
I soon stumbled across some SLP and educational membership sites that offered games and interactive activities. If they offered free trials, I signed up. It helped me to use one type of activity for most of my students during the week. Monotonous (for me), but effective. My students seemed to like the interactive games that could be used for multiple speech targets, but after a few weeks of activities that were similar, they were no longer as attention-grabbing as they had once been. A few sites rose above and offered varied materials and subjects, and I was grateful for that.
For language tasks, my go-to was IXL.com. The tasks were interactive and scaffolded.
For social skills, Everyday Speech took the cake. Video modeling and interactive games and activities allowed for varied therapy sessions and peer modeling for students who were not otherwise around their peers.
For articulation, I used Boom Cards (and I will be honest – most of the decks that I used were Free!)
The takeaway? Sometimes those annual (or monthly) membership fees were worth it. Biting the bullet was hard, but my time was priceless.
Fast forward to this school year: I was assigned preschool and elementary school students. I jumped down the Green Screen rabbit hole, and I haven’t yet emerged from the warren. The creativity that I get to employ and the excited faces that I get to see have alleviated a lot of planning stress…..and I got to bring back out some of those traditional materials that had been hibernating in the bin shelter that we built in the garage a few years ago. ?
I have added abcya.com and Epic Books to my weekly and bi-weekly interactions with my students. It turns out that variety truly is the spice of life – even for a 3-year-old.
PS – I have been able to spend extra time (every day) with that once 9-month-old baby who turned two today. And my husband and I were able to flex our schedules so that we can be a stay at home and work from home family. And I wouldn’t trade that for the world.
In this month’s Clinician Partnership Showcase, Cal and Brittany Brunell, co-founders of Everyday Speech, will share their passion for creating research-driven content.
About the Author
Erin Nelson grew up on the east coast but moved to Colorado 10 years ago because the mountains’ beauty inspired her. She has two young children, and she loves to watch them learn and explore. She enjoys crafting, reading, and working in her garden!