How to Have a Stress-Free First Week

Today I begin seeing my students for therapy, and I plan on a stress-free 1st week. Am I ready? Am I as organized as I'd like to be? Heck, no, but I'm forging ahead anyway! Here are some ways I'll  start my therapy year off stress-free.

A little bit of this, a little bit of that.
First on the agenda is the "housekeeping" items that have to be discussed. Even though my procedures haven't changed that much from last year, I go over them the first session to refresh everyone's memories. 1 big change will be no prize box. This will be the first time I've ever not had some sort of prize/treat, but after speaking with Gold Country SLP over the summer, I realize that it's not necessary, and honestly, all it does is eat up 5 minutes of therapy time. Over the past couple of years, I've had a giant gameboard on my wall...when the student reaches the top, he earns a prize. I have several students that think that's why they come to Speech/Language, so it's time to get real. I'm sucking it up and trying it. Fingers crossed!
I have a bulletin board with "I can increase my" in the middle and different targets around it. This will be talked about, and the student will be able to tell me which aspect of speech/language he/she is working on.
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I also have "Speech" as an acronym on my wall that we will also discuss:
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 Another thing that will be done that first session is homework folders. I give my students homework every week. They are expected to take the folder home, complete the page, and have their helper sign so I know it was completed. I don't allow the students to decorate the folders while they're with me, but tell them they are more than welcome to decorate once they get home. I track the homework through Google Forms as part of their data. As a reinforcement, I'll use ClassDojo so the students can keep track of their own homework. I may give them a certain amount of points to work toward for a fun activity (speech/language related) before Christmas and again at the end of the year.

It's all about that base (-line data, that is!).
Baseline data is important to have, especially after a summer break. Hopefully you'll find that several of your students miraculously corrected that /r/, or another sound that they worked so hard on last school year. Sometimes giving the brain a little bit of a break is all that is needed. I've had several students whom I've questioned whether or not they'll ever get that sound, only to find that when we come back after summer break, they've done it. I'll spend this week collecting baseline data so we'll have a good starting place...with both artic and language. For my artic students, I use the S-CAT. Not only can I figure out a percentage, but I can also look at the sound in different contexts to determine if he is able to produce the sound at all. That gives me a good starting place with therapy, especially with that /r/. Oh, and just to make it interesting for the kids, they'll play a board game while I'm taking the data. The kids love Big John...kind of gross, but they love it. It's something fun to start off the year, anyway.
Don't Worry...Be Happy
I'm going into therapy today with no attendance sheets or data sheets ready. It's going to be okay; I'll do them during the therapy sessions while the students are talking about their summer and just talking with each other. I'll have one ear listening to them so I can pick up on exactly how they're doing with their target in conversation.

There's no need to be stressed about your first week of therapy. I'm hoping the schedule goes smoothly and no one's time needs to be changed. A girl can wish, right?
How does this compare to your first week of therapy?


  1. Thanks for this! Great perspective. I'm also moving away from prizes this year. We'll see how it goes!

    1. I heard quite a few "ohs" when I told my students the game board (and prizes) are gone, but they'll get over it!


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