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How to prepare your school age child for success in remote speech and language therapy sessions and navigate issues

Over the recent years, technology has been both a blessing and a common source of frustration across households. It allowed children to connect with teachers and therapists so that they could still receive services and schooling in trying times. However, it also presented numerous challenges surrounding technology malfunctions, participation and connectivity issues. While the world continues to adapt to a “new normal”, remote therapy sessions still continue to be a viable option for many families. Here are some tips to set your child up for success in remote therapy sessions, encourage active participation and navigate technology issues that may arise.

First, set the stage:

  • Test your devices beforehand
    • It is extremely helpful to test your devices beforehand. This can save valuable therapy time to devote to your child’s objectives rather than configuring device log in information. To test beforehand, you can open the video sharing application that you’ll be using (e.g., Zoom) and have a test meeting with another device such as your phone or another family member or friend. Make sure that you can hear and see them and they can hear and see you!
  • Create a designated “work zone”
    • Having a distinct space for therapy helps a child engage easily and readily in structured therapy activities. Participating from home can help make children more comfortable as they are in their natural environment. But it’s hard for anyone to be motivated to participate when you’re cozy in your bed or in your favorite spot on the couch. The designated work zone doesn’t have to be anything elaborate or complicated, just a simple space that indicates there are different expectations than when just playing at home. I’ve had kids make “speech forts” in their homes which provided the perfect place for structure, creative and fun therapy!
    • It is also important to make sure this space is relatively quiet so that the child can hear and actively engage with the session. Everyone has different home layouts and situations so a private and completely quiet place may not be possible. In these situations, if your child can tolerate them, headphones may be helpful.
  • Consider a “speech buddy” that stays in the designated work zone and participates in therapy with your child
    • A speech buddy can be a stuffed animal or action figure that stays in the work zone to participate in the therapy session with your child. This can help maintain the child’s engagement and also be a rewarding reinforcer to participate in therapy.
  • Review the schedule beforehand and give a reminder when speech sessions are approaching
    • Leaving in the middle of your favorite game, movie or play time would make any child less than excited to participate in speech therapy. Giving your kids a reminder of the schedule and time to wrap up their activities beforehand can help to create a smooth start to therapy.

Be the Troubleshooter

  • Have a facilitator/adult nearby to help if technology issues arise
    • Many issues that arise with technology can be fixed with a simple toggle of a switch or change in setting. Being within earshot of your child’s session can solve these problems quickly without disrupting the session.
  • Have contact information of your therapist to contact if your connection is disrupted
    • Some technology issues are not as simple to fix. If connection is lost with your provider and not resumed in a couple minutes, make sure to have their contact information on hand so that you can quickly get in touch with them to determine if the problem can be solved.
  • Have another device for back up if your main device crashes or runs out of power
    • Some technology issues can’t be fixed within the short time of a session, having another device that can be utilized as a backup. Even cell phones work well in a pinch to connect with the therapist and continue with the session.
  • Prepare to participate when technology fails
    • A child’s attention can be fleeting when technology issues are persisting. When that is happening, prepare to actively participate to maintain your child’s engagement. This can look different depending on your child’s needs. They may need you to engage them in an activity or a chat about what is going on in speech to continue participation. Have a chat with your therapist before starting remote sessions to see if they have any recommendations for activities related to their speech and language objectives to do while they are waiting to re-connect.


Rose, S.  (2022, April).  How to prepare your school age child for success in remote speech and language therapy sessions and navigate issues.  Zebra Speech.
this blog post is by

Speech-language pathologist (SLP)

more speech therapy articles posts (blogs) by Stephanie Rose