Speech Therapy Tips for Older Students

Keeping upper elementary, middle, and high school students engaged in speech therapy can be quite challenging. I have some speech therapy tips for older students that will help you keep them motivated and engaged. 

Teenage boy working at computer with title Speech Therapy tips for older students

Tip 1: Use high interest activities

Take the time to really get to know your students and their interests. Find out what they enjoy doing when they’re not in school? What music do they like? Learn some of their favorite TV shows and movies. What are their favorite snacks and drinks? This is all information you can use to get their attention and participation in speech therapy sessions. Instead of using typical speech therapy resources, use songs, youtube videos, clips from movies, and games they enjoy. Print out the lyrics to their favorite songs (edit as necessary) and pull out target words or sentences to use when working on their goals. Songs are great for working on inferencing skills, figurative language, and other language skills. You can also highlight words with their target sounds and practice those words. If all else fails, keep their favorite snacks/drinks on hand for reinforcement for good participation.

Tip 2: Use Competitive and strategy games

In my experience, older students often enjoy a little friendly competition. I like to use games that involve a little more strategy and higher level thinking when at all possible. These types of games are often more fun for older students who get bored with your traditional games. One of my favorite games to use when working with older students is this Shape Race Articulation Game. The targets are for articulation, but I have used it with some of my students with language goals as well. This game is most fun when players can strategize and try to connect their path while trying to block the other player. You can see more about this game by clicking HERE. Other fun games for older students include 5 Second Rule and Exploding Kittens.

Tip 3: Incorporate activities that will give them a challenge

Older students often get bored easily. That’s why I like to use activities that give them just the right level of a challenge without being too difficult. One of my favorite activities for this is sudoku. I use Articulation Sudoku and Language Sudoku with my students. Sudoku is great because it comes in different skill levels. Beginners can start out with easy or level 1 sudoku and then work their way to harder puzzles as they get the hang of it. Check out my sudoku resources by clicking HERE. You can also read more about why I love using sudoku in THIS POST.

Tip 4: Incorporate real life practice

Keeping speech therapy activities meaningful to your students will increase engagement. Find out what they have going on in their lives and incorporate that into your sessions. Do they have a class presentation coming up? A job interview? Or maybe a school play? Do they need extra practice making phone calls? You can role play and make pretend phone calls to order a pizza or speak with a store manager about a problem with an order. Another idea is to take them around campus and speak with other adults and staff. Ask for information, run errands, or just practice conversational skills.

Tip 5: Encourage them to set their own goals

Get your students involved in their goal setting. This is a great way for them to take ownership of their goals and progress. Find out what is important to them. What are they most concerned about? What do they want to change the most? You don’t have to leave the goal writing completely up to them, but you can include them in the process.

I hope these speech therapy tips for older students help you with your caseload. Remember, it’s not always easy to keep older students engaged, but we have to try!

Here are some freebies you can use with your older students in speech:

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