Pop Quiz: At which of these locations do Speech-Language Pathologists provide therapy?
B) Outpatient Rehab Centers
E) All of the above
The answer is E, although I know many SLP's who have a preference for a particular location- and it usually isn't daycares. I've provided therapy in daycares for many years, and I used to dread those days too. Generally, daycares are more crowded and have more teachers who rotate throughout the day and the week. The day is not as structured as a school day, and children are often there for longer- or, just there for the most challenging parts of the day: early morning and after school. I often felt like I was just throwing paper away when I would leave notes at daycares because none of my suggestions seemed to have any effect. But fear not! With a little preparation, you no longer have to dread Daycare Days! Here are my tips for creating successful, cooperative visits to the daycares on your caseload.
1. Rethink your visit
We're all busy. One year as a preschool therapist, I was assigned to 14 different schools and daycares each week. I barely had enough time to see my students at each site, let alone work with the teachers/daycare providers to help with carryover! I rushed in, worked with my students, then left some handouts as I rushed out. No wonder I wasn't seeing carryover! Unfortunately, handouts alone are not what daycare workers need, and they are not going to remember what you've said 10 minutes after you leave. Clear, concise, WRITTEN information about the student's goals and needs is key. I created a Services Info page (available in my SLP Basic Paperwork Bundle) that has all pertinent information at a glance- child's name, IEP date, goals, service providers WITH their schedule and contact info, and a Strategies/Cues That Work section. I write down any important information for each session after I talk with the daycare worker in the Cues section, and ask them to write down anything they think of during the time I'm not there. I know that I can't remember anything if it's not written down!
2. Leave your contact information in multiple places
I got some inexpensive business cards on Vistaprint (they have sales almost daily) with my name, school employer (since some students receive services from multiple agencies), cell phone number, and email (just in case). To keep your personal cell phone number private, you have a few options:
I also got some plain address labels (affiliate link here) and printed "Have questions? You can reach me at (email ) and (phone number)" on them. I keep a few sheets of labels in my Speech Binder and stick them on any handouts I leave. Then, anyone reading it can email or call me with questions without having to search around for my contact information.
3. Have a central location
I know it's hard to find a central location in most daycares, where space is at a premium and you might have students in different classes. In those cases, I like to leave a pocket folder in each child's classroom, and leave my business card with the receptionist or director. In the folder (picture below), I have my Service Info page and my business card. I make a few of these folders at the beginning of the year so they are ready to go, and add other information as needed. Some handouts I love to include are:
4. Follow up
Chances are, when you try to talk with any teacher or daycare worker, they're going to be in the middle of something. We all know that you don't retain information well if you're occupied with something else. To circumvent that, I jot down a quick note in my data collection page about what I talked about with the daycare worker, and then make sure to ask them about it on the next visit. "How did those visuals work for you? Is there anything that would make them easier to use?" That's been a game changer for me! Don't forget that we SLP's went to school for years to learn the terms we now use daily. Anne from Beautiful Speech Life has an excellent blog post on how to help parents understand what we do and how we can help their child in plain language, and her tips apply to working with anyone. Norm-referenced? Expressive/receptive? Phonological? That sounds like Greek to most people!
5. Be humble!
This might be the hardest one of all for me, but so necessary! I might feel like I did a great job with all of the other tips, and then come back the next week and still find the visuals in a drawer or the same complex directions being used despite my attempts to have them simplified for students. It happens, and the best way to respond is to respectfully ask how you can be more helpful. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn't. All we can do is our best!
I hope these tips helped you! Leave a comment or email me if you have any questions or tips that have worked for you! Happy learning!
I'm Jill! I love to create and blog about fun, evidence-based resources that make the lives of parents and busy SLPs easier.