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Happy Summer! Time for resting, beach time, family, and SLP life. Yep, being an SLP never ends. That doesn't mean it has to consume us. Here are 3 tips to help you through the summer.

1) Rest

The end of the school year is crazy! We've been cramming in meetings, staying up late to write reports, and getting all the service time in.

Take some time to enjoy life without an alarm clock, a night where you're not wondering what the next day's therapy will bring, and all the bathroom breaks you want! Don't feel guilty about having some time to recharge. The summer is a factor in choosing to work in the schools in the first place. There are many days that you are making more withdrawals in your personal bank account than deposits. Feel free to make a few deposits.

2) Stop searching for balance

Speaking of freedom, here's a big one - there is no such thing as balance.

Searching for balance is an impossible task. You'll never be able to even out family and work. Summer break is not going to balance out all of the work we do during the school year. If we try to do that, we are going to be exhausted. 

That's not to say there aren't priorities and responsibilities. I still have the responsibilities to take care of chores and bills. I still have priorities during the day.
But balance? Counting time and making sure everything is even is for the birds. It's a myth. Once I stopped searching for the elusive balance and focused on responsibilities and priorities, a burden was lifted. 

3) You're still an SLP

We keep learning during the summer. Whether it's CEUs, reading about best practices, or working with our own children, we are still SLPs. And vacation? My family has simultaneously told me to leave my "SLP mind" at home while asking about nearby children they are concerned about. That situation even led me to this blog post of princess names.

If you're getting together with family and friends, be prepared to have an observation ready to go when someone asks you, "Do you think my child needs speech therapy?" It's just something about our field. I don't offer my opinions unless asked. I'm happy to discuss concerns and questions as they come up.

I've taken CEUs during some summers and totally taken off other summers. It depends on what the topics are, the dates (I won't change vacation dates for CEUs), and how many hours I need. Last summer, I got in hours during the ASHA Connect conference with friends - it was a wonderful combination of relationships and CEUs!
From left to right: Mia from Putting Words in Your Mouth, me, Pam from Chit Chat and Small Talk, Mary from Old School Speech, Annie from Doyle Speech Works, Tracy from GoldCountrySLP, and Carly.

This summer, I don't have any CEUs scheduled. I'll have to be more aware of getting in my hours during the school year. Fortunately, TSHA offers great sessions!

Rest, prioritize instead of balancing, and keep up your skills. Here's to a wonderful summer!
Rest, stop searching for balance, and keep learning

Ah, summer!

Time for going outside, swimming, vacationing, and... practicing communication skills!

The Frenzied SLPs are hosting a linky party with LOTS of ideas for speech and language practice during the summer.

I know what you're thinking because I'm thinking the exact same things. First, I'm seeing a lot of progress with many students at right now, and I want that to continue, so I'm sending homework to parents.

Also me: Parents don't do the homework during the school year, so why would I expect them to during the summer?

And me: Kids should just be kids during the summer!

I have little experience with my own daughter. Yep, I'm an SLP who named her daughter a name that STARTS with /r/. It wasn't the first choice for her name, but when that didn't work out, the /r/ name was the only one my husband and I agreed on. I blame the fact that I had natural childbirth, and not by choice. No one believed me when I told them I was in labor and it was too late for an epidural.

With my daughter R, I quickly found out that working on artic all day was not going to cut it. We agreed to work on it only in the car - win for me since those were the days of driving to dance and baseball. And you know what? She worked on /r/ in the car, I didn't worry about it the rest of the time, and everything worked out nicely.

Our Students NEED to Practice Their Skills During the Summer

So students don't practice during the week. They are still getting therapy. During the summer, that's 2-3 months with no therapy. Practice is important!

Calendars provide an easy visual for parents, a short time for kids to practice communication skills, and they are easy to keep track of.

I use summer homework from A Perfect Blend. I like the calendars and the ability to print in B&W and then copy onto color paper. The colors will make the packet stand out to parents, and they can just post the calendar on their refrigerators!

Frenzied SLP Schoolhouse Talk has some free calendars that come in color and B&W for articulation and language. Again, having the option to print in B&W and copy onto solid color paper is a big plus!

TIP: Wanna make sure the homework gets home? Copy the final progress report onto color paper and staple it on top. Students are more likely to take home report cards.

That covers getting the homework calendars home and letters to parents stressing the importance of practicing.

Kids Should Be Kids!

I totally agree with this. Summer is a time to rest, experience new things, and have fun. That doesn't mean summer is a time to stop learning.

I took both of my kids to the local library for summer reading programs. They loved picking out books and getting prizes like stickers and ice cream at local restaurants. The library also had programs with exotic animals and magic tricks. My kids didn't even know they were still learning because it was so much fun!

I loved having an indoor summer activity with A/C!

It's summer easy - we just had to sign up, and it was free. Check with your library and see if they have a program. Then pass the word to parents.

Be sure to click on the links below for more ideas!
Matching games, Memory, Concentration - whatever you call it - can add some fun and are a good alternative to solid drill and kill. There can be some problems in mixed groups - the artic students get the cards without their sounds, the language students can't remember where the matches are in a large visual field, and there is always one student who snatches up all the matches in half the therapy time.

I'm left without good data, extra time in therapy, and unhappy students who didn't get enough turns.

I need more control in these games.
Much like board games and balance games, I've turned matching games into cooperative games.

I'm not against competition. I am all for using therapy time efficiently, and the usual Memory rules mess that up. I always have one student who gets a match and then runs through the rest of the matches. Artic students don't want to say words if a another student gets their match. Some students immediately give up because there are too many cards to remember.

My first solution is to halve the cards. It's pretty easy to do so with cards from Super Duper Inc. because they are numbered and lettered, as in 1A, 1B.

These cards are also easy to separate because there is a word on one side and a question on the other.
speech therapy memory games
After the cards are separated, I can control which one students are looking for. I distribute one pile to the group. This works well in mixed groups. I can give the /s/ cards to the artic student. I can choose the vocabulary words the student needs to work on. Students are matching cards containing their IEP objectives. I get data.

By passing out half of the piles, the visual field is automatically reduced. Students who are easily frustrated by a tableful of blank white cards can breathe easier. There aren't as many cards to remember.

The next adjustment I make is that students only get one turn at a time. Even if a student gets a match, we move on. That way, the one student with the perfect visual memory isn't sweeping up all the cards.

Once a student finds all of the matches, a small reward is offered - a smelly smiley, a sticker, or high five. By taking one turn at a time, the group usually finishes the game around the same time. If the group is having trouble waiting for turns, I make the whole group wait until everyone finds their matches before giving a reward.

Don't be afraid to run very small matching games. In self-contained rooms, I've given students 1-2 cards to match. For students who have a primary eligibility other than speech, a big matching game can be too much. By giving them a visual and only putting 2-4 upside down cards on the table, they can work on turn-taking while also having fun "finding" their matches.

If you like these tips, be sure to pin this post for future reference.

 How to turn matching games into cooperative games in speech therapy to address student IEPs and work efficiently
I've also turned other types of games into cooperative games. Read more at:
How to Turn Board Games into Cooperative Games
How to Turn Balance Games into Cooperative Games

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