Let’s face it, you spend a lot of money and time in getting your child the support services that they need to reach their utmost potential. But how do you know if they are getting the most out of their sessions? What can you do as a parent to ensure the best outcome?
I have 5 things that you can do today to ensure that your child gets the most out of their therapy program!
1. Participate in therapy sessions.
2. Know your child’s therapy goals.
3. Ask questions.
4. Practice therapy targets at home and in the community.
5. Celebrate small wins.
Participate in Therapy Sessions
When you spend your time in the waiting room as your child has their therapy session, you are missing out on a lot of learning opportunities, including understanding what strategies the therapist is using to help your child. Without an understanding of the strategies being used, it will prove difficult for you to practice their goals outside of the therapy session which may have a negative impact on how quickly your child will make progress.
So, whenever possible instead of sitting in the waiting room opt to sit in the therapy session. This is where you can observe specific strategies being used and even more importantly you can practice these strategies so that you can feel comfortable working with your child outside of the therapy session.
As you practice strategies inside the therapy room, the therapist can provide coaching and feedback to help you learn as well as ensure that you are implementing them correctly. This will help boost your confidence that you are doing the right thing and will help you to replicate similar activities at home.
Know Your Child’s Therapy Goals
Ideally when starting services with your child, your child’s treating therapist will ask you about your concerns regarding your child, as well as your expectations regarding treatment. You should have a voice regarding your child’s therapy goals, after all you are the expert on your child.
Having a good understanding of your child’s therapy goals will allow you to make informed decisions about your child’s therapy program as well as will allow you to target goals outside of the therapy setting more effectively. Further, by understanding your child’s goals you will have a greater knowledge of your child’s needs, where they are developmentally, and how to track and celebrate progress!
As they say, knowledge is power! By asking questions, it allows you to learn as much as possible. The more information and understanding that you have about your child and their developmental needs, the better you can advocate for them. Further by working collaboratively with your child’s therapists you will feel more confident working with your child on their goals as a member of the team.
So, don’t be afraid to ask questions, offer suggestions, or solicit feedback. You can ask for help on specific routines or things that you find yourself getting stuck on when practicing at home. This will allow you to reflect on what is or is not working so that you can, and your team can adjust accordingly.
Practice Therapy Targets at Home and in the Community
Therapists may spend as little as 30 hours with a child during the year, whereas caregivers spend on average 11-30 hours a week fully engaged in activities with their young children. So not only do caregivers have more time with children, but children learn best in natural contexts.
And while being your child’s coach or therapist outside of therapy sessions may sound intimidating, don’t underestimate your qualifications! You are your child’s first teacher and communication partner, and you know your child best, including their strengths and needs. You spend more time with your child than anyone else does, and your child trusts you.
Embedding learning opportunities within the natural context of routines not only cuts down on the “work you do”, because you are practicing in the context of activities that you would naturally be doing anyway, but it helps to generalize those skills since children can practice the skills where they need to use them. Essentially, learning in the moment promotes independence, engagement, and meaningful outcomes.
Celebrate Small Wins!
For some children progress may be slow and for many parents it is not quite fast enough, after all you want what is best for your child and want them to catch up to their peers as quickly as possible.
Just remember progress is progress, no matter how big or how small. Small progress will add up over time and will become big progress!
Which one of these 5 tips resonates the most with you? Which tip do you plan to try with your child? Comment below: