As those of you who have been following me for some time now know, I LOVE working with young children (0-5yrs). But what I LOVE even MORE than working with the children is working with the parents. I worked in the school setting for 7 years and have found my parent education skills to be “the missing link” in my therapy! At one point in my school SLP career, through no fault of my own, I had a caseload of 80+ students in three different schools from PK-middle school age. Most students were to be seen several days a week. Unfortunately as I write these words I KNOW all too well this story is NOT unique. In fact many of you who are school SLPs reading this, understand what very high caseloads do to our own quality of therapy, paperwork and communication among staff members and parents. So I think we can all imagine how difficult it became for me to be an effective communicator with 80+ families on a weekly basis. In fact, it took all of my energy and effective time management skills to share progress reports every 9 weeks on time! So I completely UNDERSTAND the plight of the school SLP in this matter. I know parent education is far from your ability to perform on a regular basis. If you are anything like I was, besides possibly seeing parents at drop off or pick up time, my main interactions with parents were at yearly IEP meetings. So it will come as no surprise when I tell you my parent education skills were quite rusty when I left the school setting.
Luckily for me, opening my own private practice, I was able to ask myself these questions: “What do I want people to say about me as a professional?” and “What do I want them to say about my practice?” Interestingly enough, the answer was the same for both questions. I wanted people to say the words “helpful”, “honest”, and “having integrity” when describing me as a professional and as a business. How I would achieve that became clear once I began providing home-based therapy services. I realized very quickly for progress to be made, I needed to make a connection with parents, which went beyond just educating parents. It meant I needed to be prepared to wear many different hats: educator, trainer, model, counselor, fellow parent, parent support, potty training adviser, family planner, sibling wrangler, nutritionist, etc. These parents were opening up their homes to me and sharing their fears, anxieties, and worries with me. I needed to give back to them. The truth became evident, parent education was so much more than just sharing my knowledge on communication development and modeling facilitation techniques and I learned that I loved every minute of it.
Over the past few years, I’ve listened more, observed more, and understood more with regard to what families need from me as a speech pathologist. I’ve learned that making a connection with parents is a must for me and the progress of every one of my clients depends on just that connection. I’ll never regret the experiences I have had in my career. Working in so many different settings has helped me learn and understand the challenges each SLP faces. I’ll always remember my journey with exploring the topic of “parent education” over the past few years and know that from the moment my first client opened their house to me, I became a better clinician for it.
I truly LOVE parent education. It’s one of my favorite parts of my job and, if it isn’t already, I hope it will be yours one day too!
This is just a side note but if you are looking for a way to enhance your parent training and education skills, check out my newest product Language Facilitation Strategies: Parent Handouts. This packet of handouts defines and explains the rationales behind 10 language facilitation techniques, provides examples of each technique as well as a place for SLP feedback and parent notes. I created these handouts for my own parent training and education purposes and I love them. I hope you will too! Grab them today on sale by clicking the link above.