Better Together: Working In Schools

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Andrea Cooper

Better Together: Working In Schools

Speech and language problems can make it hard for your child to learn in school.  We need language skills to communicate effectively. And we need to communicate to learn.  It is important that we are able to listen, understand, interpret, and formulate responses to language heard.  Reading, writing, gesturing, listening, and speaking are all forms of language. The better our children’s communication skills are, the better they will do in school.  Speech and language go hand in hand with academic skills.  It therefore makes sense that speechies, work together with our client’s teachers to support students at school.  Below we have explored some of the benefits of school-based therapy.

The link between speech pathology and academic skills

To meet their full potential; academically, socially, vocationally and economically, all children and young people need to have well-developed speech, language and  communication skills (Speech Pathology Australia, 2017).

Communication skills are essential across the school day as children make friends, problem solve, and share experiences and ideas with others.

Speech, language, and communication skill are essential for successful literacy and numeracy skills to develop.  In turn, having sufficient literacy skills also contributes to children’s language skills.  It is often through the exploration of texts that we are able to expand our vocabulary and explore new worlds and ideas.  “Speech, language and communication are closely linked to behaviour, educational outcomes, social skills and self-esteem” (Speech Pathology Australia, 2017). 

When school work is not modified to meet the language needs of the student they often disengage and struggle within the classroom setting.  We have experience working in a range of schools to support the learning needs of our clients and to help teachers modify the academic tasks so that our clients are able to achieve and learn at a level that engages and motivates them.

To find out about our work with high schoolers, check out our blog: Teens and Language Difficulties.

Afternoons are busy

There are 30 hours in a school week, and that does not include the time spent travelling to and from school.  I grew up in a rural town and the bus ride to my school often took 40 minutes, each way.  That did not leave a lot of time for my mum to fit in afterschool appointments and activities, especially when there were three of us.  Families are already busy with afternoon routines and homework obligations.  This is one of the many reasons we provide speech pathology not only in a convenient place, but also at a convenient time, which is often at our client’s school.

Having sessions at your child’s school also eliminates the need to disrupt their learning for extended periods of time.  Having a therapist visit the school means that our clients are absent from class for only the session time and not the travel time it would take to drive to a clinic.  It is also a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with your child’s teacher.

two young boys looking at book

Interprofessional Collaboration

Second to you, your child spends the majority of their time at school, with their teachers.  Your child’s teacher can provide a unique and comprehensive perspective of the strengths and challenges your child faces with their speech or language difficulty.   We can utilise this information to get a complete understanding of your child’s skills and goals for therapy.  Together with your child’s teacher, we are able to develop strategies to benefit your child not only in our sessions, but in their classroom and home life.

Social skills with real kids

Recess is the perfect time in the day to work on improving social skills and supporting our clients to engage with their peers.  Rather than sticking to roleplays and hypothetical scenarios, we can support our clients at their school to communicate and play with their peers.  It makes sense to develop friendship skills with children who our clients will see every day. 

More opportunities to practice

Research has shown that training learning support teachers significantly improves their responsiveness and strategies for engaging children in social learning.  This means that your child gets more opportunities beyond their speech pathology sessions to practice their skills, and ultimately meet their communication goals faster.

Creating goals that are relevant and functional

Speech and language goals closely relate to a child’s academic outcomes.  If a child has difficulty articulating speech sounds, they may have trouble reading and spelling words that include that same sound.   Language skills directly relate to all subject areas.  A student must have the comprehension skills to interpret both spoken and written material.  They must also have the language skills to formulate detailed responses with correct grammar.

When providing speech pathology sessions at your child’s school we are able to discuss with your child’s teacher exactly what they are learning at school and incorporate those subject areas and learning targets in our sessions. The goal of speech and language services is to help your child do well in school. We will work as part of a team that makes sure that your child gets the services that they need, to succeed in their personal learning goals.

To find out more, about the areas a speech pathologist can help with click here.

Speech Pathology Australia published a fantastic document about the benefits of speech pathologists working in schools.  If you would like to find out more about the vast work that we do in both primary and high schools check out the document by clicking here.

Contact us if you would like more information on how we can work together with your child’s school to reach their learning potential.

Happy Talking,



Kretzmann, M., Shih, W., & Kasari, C. (2015). Improving peer engagement of children with Autism on the school playground: A randomized controlled trial. Behavior Therapy, 46(1), 20-28.

Speech Pathology Australia. (2017). Speech Pathology in Schools: A resource to support engagement and participation of students with speech, language and communication needs in schools. Melbourne: The Speech Pathology Association of Australia Limited.