Should Child Led Learning be Practiced in Speech and Language Therapy?

Speech Therapy
Should Child Led Learning be Practiced in Speech and Language Therapy?

Let’s assume that you are working with your child to say “give me”, instead he responds “I want firetruck” which you are holding in your hands. What do you do? Do you still insist that he say “give me”, because that was your goal’ or do you give away the fire engine since he meaningfully asked for it?

Difficult question, huh?


Many a times Speech Language Pathologists (SLP) stick rigidly to a goal, because it is on their list or parents insist they want in that way. However, as an SLP our goal is to help our children with executive function, use divergent thinking, and be flexible in their communication.

Our role does not begin and end with a set of rigid goals or targets.

In the example I have used, the child uses a short sentence - “I want firetruck”, which is about three words against the therapist’s goal which is only two words - “give me”. 

So what’s better and more meaningful to the child? What the child uttered to express his need - “I want firetruck” being more meaningful.

What would happen if the SLP were to demand and insists the child to use “give me” and the firetruck is taken away from him? The child would cry, may scream, and probably after sometime give-in with distress. He would feel controlled and unvalidated.

On the contrary, children need to feel safe and enjoy autonomy in our sessions. This will help them with flexibility in communication, which is what we want at the end of the day. Isn’t it?!

And here is how we do it - become ‘one with the child’ and ‘let them take the lead’. If we stick to a set of goals like stubborn dirt on our clothes, we are not being progressive and limiting the child’s progress. 

Speech therapy must be child centric and child lead for best outcomes. A HAPPY child speaks much more than a child who is restricted to a set of words or rules.

For more information on early language development, read our other blogs. 

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