Using a Visual Schedule in Speech Therapy Here we go! I have now surpassed my 20th school year working in the field. Over the course of those years, I have worked as an SLPA while finishing my graduate program, in skilled nursing facilities, schools, hospitals, and outpatient clinics. The majority of my time has been spent in the public school setting. Originally I had elementary, middle school, junior high and even high school. For the last ten years, I have primarily worked at an Early Childhood Center with 3-6 year olds. Coming from older to much younger clients, it took some trial and error on my part! Some things have gone well, some not so well. I have learned some things that I have carried over each year so this week I want to share some tips that I hope you will find useful! TIP ONE: The first thing I do when I start therapy for the year is make my schedule for a session. I use a visual schedule EVERY. SINGLE. SESSION. You can **download** a free copy of my visual schedule here. We always start with a song on the carpet and then move to the table. While at the table we read a book. As I read the book I pull out real objects for vocabulary that go along with the story. I also use story sticks with pictures to keep little hands busy while we read. After our book, we have 3-5 min for “play”. That is when they have the opportunity to explore the objects and use the vocabulary we have worked on during the story. We conclude by putting the objects back into the bucket, cleaning off the table, pushing in our chairs and lining up at the door. Visual schedules help my youngest students anticipate what will happen every time they come to speech therapy. On those rough days…that happen when you are 3 and 4…the visual schedule helps bring the students back into the group. Our speech groups are predictable and routines based. I have high expectations for my students and they know what those expectations are from the very beginning. This minimizes behavioral challenges that disrupt us from meeting our goals in therapy. The first two or three weeks we are learning to sit at the table so I do use books and manipulatives. I slowly introduce what I call our “paper work” or “table work” into sessions with my four and five year olds. They will be doing worksheet activities in their PreK and Kindergarten classes by that time as well. Depending on the goals of the 3 year old groups I serve, we will occasionally use flash cards and worksheets but not as often. To see more activities that I use with early childhood students and learn more about using themes in speech therapy, sign up for free themed downloads from The Speech Room Resources Library!