Top 3 Scheduling Tips to Getting Kids Seen in Schools
Any SLP working in a school setting knows the pain and frustration that making the speech/language schedule at the beginning of the year can cause. New kids coming out of nowhere, teachers from every grade want their students to be seen in the afternoon, and it seems like no one is available on Tuesdays?!? It’s enough to rattle anyone! I have put together some tips that I have found helpful in getting that schedule up and going.
1. Front Load Your Schedule – A handy tip for getting kids served and potentially having space for make up sessions is to schedule as many students as possible on Mondays and Tuesdays. This leaves the later part of your week open for make up sessions or evaluations. School assemblies/field trips/field days are often scheduled for Thursdays and Fridays, so using this strategy could help you in avoiding missing sessions due to those activities.
2. Utilize 20 mins sessions as much as possible – Seeing a student for a 20 minute session provides many more opportunities during the school day to provide therapy. Teachers are usually more willing to let a student miss part of their lesson for speech if the student is only going to be gone for 20 minutes vs. 30 minutes. It’s also an evidenced-based delivery model. Providing shorter, more frequent sessions results in faster progress towards mastery of speech and language goals. 20 minute sessions result in an easier scheduling process for the SLP, happier teachers, and students who make quick progress. Everyone wins!
3. Pick up a student during transition times – Picking up a student in the time between activities or lessons is another way to make sure they are in the classroom for as much instruction as possible. It’s also great if you can incorporate some curriculum-based work from their classroom into your sessions. The students can target their speech and language goals in a context that is academically relevant, and they might be ahead on their classroom work for the day!
Scheduling is one of the facets of being a school-based SLP that never really gets easier. Using the tips above, along with some of your own tricks that you pick up along the way, should help you to maximize your efficiency and make sure your students are getting the therapy time they need!
Kacey Hammonds, M.S., CCC-SLP