SpeakWell, ReadWell has reached its one-year anniversary! That inspired me to look back and consider why I began this blog in the first place. Originally, I posted a welcome message with a story of one of my students. After a few weeks I removed that section to give the page a cleaner look. But now, in honor of the blog’s birthday, I’m reposting the original welcome.
Speech therapy can address a wide variety of communication difficulties – problems pronouncing specific sounds, weak vocabulary, speaking with incorrect grammar, using language in socially inappropriate ways . . . and the list goes on!
Strong speech and language skills provide a foundation for reading and that is how I came to choose the name for this blog. When a child cannot speak with correct grammar or vocabulary he’ll have more difficulty predicting words in stories, and prediction is an invaluable skill to becoming a proficient reader. Speech and reading are both aspects of communication; our ability to communicate helps us establish relationships with others, enabling us to share our stories. And speaking of stories . . .
One afternoon I picked up a group of Kindergarten students for their speech session. On the way to my classroom one of the kids became very animated; he gestured expansively and a rush of unintelligible words came pouring out. His poor articulation made it difficult to pick up more than a couple words but he supplemented with expressive body language. When we got to my room he demonstrated even more effectively what had happened to him while on vacation. He pointed his finger like a gun, grabbed a chair and laid it on its side, then pounded his fist into his arm. What trauma he had been through since I last saw him! I pieced together his tale through his words and pantomime then confirmed more details later by talking to his teacher and parents. The family had been robbed at gunpoint and this child needed to tell his story.
Fortunately, most of my students don’t have such dramatic stories to tell, but they do need to tell their own – stories of a new kitten, a trip to the county fair, or a new pair of shoes. They also need to develop skills to read the stories of others. My purpose for this blog is to open a discussion about communication, introduce appealing children’s literature, and share experiences. I fervently hope that we all - parents, educators, and writers - help the children in our care learn to tell their own stories.
Yesterday, in my last speech group of the day, the student whose family had been robbed came for his speech session. I’m happy to report I can now understand his speech though he still has a slight lisp. I’m also happy to report he has become a wonderful storyteller and the stories he tells are not traumatic; they are full of joy, adventure and a rich family life.