Helping Your Students Stay Motivated to Practice
Consistent home practice is crucial to student success, and while some students are more than willing to continue practicing their speech-language skills at home, some may be more reluctant. Other students may have barriers that can keep them from being as successful as they want to be.
Your role as a school-based SLP entails more than therapy sessions. It includes helping your students become and stay motivated even when they’re not with you.
Getting Over the Barricades to Success
Before you can begin to motivate your students, you need to understand where they are in their desire to be successful with their therapy. Some kids are more willing than others to do the work, and then there are some who may want to do the work to be successful in their therapy yet feel their obstacles are too great.
A conversation with your student and/or the student’s family about underlying issues with practicing at home may provide insight into what struggles your student may have to overcome. Roadblocks to success may include physical or mental health problems, lack of resources, or poor support at home.
Finding the Right Motivation
Just as no two snowflakes are alike, no two students will be alike. There may be similarities between them but what may work for one, may not work for the other. People are motivated by different reasons. In younger students, their reasons for motivation may be to fit in and make friends with their classmates whereas an teen may want to avoid being bullied or begin to develop their professional careers.
Understanding whether the “why” of their motivation comes from outside of themselves (a reward for instance), or from the inside (personal satisfaction), can help you and your students find the right motivational tools for therapy.
Ways to Motivate Students
Your students should be involved in finding ways to practice and stay motivated to practice at home. These suggestions to motivate your students may provide the right strategy and the best supportive plan for you both.
- Work in short bursts – Most people, especially younger kids and those with focus issues benefit best from working in short bursts of time. A timer can be used to keep students from being bogged down or as a jump start.
- Find a buddy or cheerleader – Bringing someone in the loop to act as a cheerleader or accountability partner can be the outside force that some students need to stay motivated. This could be their parent, teacher, sibling, or classmate/mentor.
- Modify the work – Some students may struggle to adhere to rules or find an activity too difficult to complete at home. Find a way to alter the activity so they can be as successful at home as they are in a session.
- Utilize rewards – Not all rewards are bad. Rewards can be quite beneficial when used properly. Rewards can lead a student to feel more competent with their therapy and be a driving force for continued success and personal satisfaction; especially when combined with tracking success.
It’s not only important for students to stay motivated; it’s important to measure progress in order to see what’s working and what’s not. Keeping your students interested and on the right track for therapy success should never feel like a bribe or a form of control. Those kinds of motivation tactics rarely work and never work in the long term.
Do you have any other motivational tactics that work well with students? Let us know in the comments section below.
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