Because of the nature of the crazy schedule of the school-based SLP, I frequently end up having to do fluency therapy in mixed groups. I see them alongside my articulation and language students, which sometimes makes it a little harder to provide top-notch fluency therapy (at least in my mind) for my student.
The most common difficulties I’ve encountered with dealing with fluency therapy in mixed groups are: not getting quality time to focus on education and counseling and trying to find activities that can work for all of my students.
After lots of trial and error, I’ve figured out several tips for working on fluency in mixed groups.
1. Plan whole group fluency activities that benefit all speech kids
Instead of trying to make your fluency kids fit into your articulation activities, try the other way around. Start your session off with whole group relaxation exercises. It’s beneficial for all, especially your little hyperactive friends. Articulation, fluency, and even voice students alike can all learn about their speech mechanisms. It’s a great way to work on the education component, even if it’s more in depth than you might usually go with your average artic kid.
2. Open-ended games or activities
Using one unifying activity can make group therapy run more smoothly. You just need to be able to adapt the activity to suit any goal. My go-tos are:
- Themed TPT games
- Picture books or wordless books
- Ball poppers, bowling, bean bag toss
- Any other turn-taking games – strategy practice on their turn (Tip: choose one strategy to practice and review it before beginning game. Sometimes I use artic cards or question sticks for targets)
Setting up stations can be a good way to get one-on-one time with the student to work on that counseling or education piece, since you may get a better response without their peers sitting next to them. The difficult part though is finding stations that are conducive to fluency therapy in addition to goals the other students are practicing.
- Give fluency kids a pacing strip and sentences to practice reduced rate or pausing while doing the activities at each station
- Choose one strategy have them define it and practice it with conversation starters
- Give them a diagram of the speech machine and have them label each part while they complete the station activities
One of my favorite ways to target multiple types of goals is by doing interactive binders or worksheets. I have binders for both articulation and fluency. Each student keeps a folder with their worksheets in it. I strategically choose the activity sheet from the binders with the sounds or goals they will work on that day. I love this because they can all focus on their specific goals while doing their worksheet. While I work with one on completing it, the others can be coloring, cutting, or pasting as needed.
5. Task Cards
I absolutely love task cards for mixed groups! We pull out different decks for articulation, fluency, and language and they work on the cards for their goal. You can use these with stations, with a game, or just sitting around the table. The ones I use come with lots of activities for each skill, and the kids have a lot of fun with the cards themselves.
- Another way to approach groups is to do multiple activities each session. Give your students a visual schedule for speech and have them complete several tasks throughout your session: an articulation task, a language task, and a fluency task. This is not my preferred way to structure my sessions, but I have done it when circumstances call for it.
- If all else fails, change their minutes. Sometimes no matter what you do, the group therapy just never ends up working for the student. In these cases, you should probably suck it up and try a different approach. I’ve seen success with speedy speech type models, where you would see the fluency student 5-10 minutes individually 3-5 days a week. This gives you lots more individual time to focus on their needs.