Speech-language pathologist and occupational therapist treatment sessions can be designed in a variety of ways. When working with children under the age of five, it can be difficult for them to sit at a table for an extended period of time due to higher energy levels and decreased attention spans. This experience may also negatively impact toddlers as they may see learning as a negative experience rather than an exciting/pleasurable one. From my personal experience, children tend to learn better when it is pleasurable rather than negative.
I recommend using play-based intervention techniques or "play-based therapy" to use enjoyable activities to target therapy goals. It is also beneficial as it helps children:
- Learn new skills
- Maintain increased attention towards objects and others
- Improve cognitive abilities
- Promote increased participation through fun and engaging activities
- Build more positive relationships with adults
When interacting with children during play-based intervention sessions, we make sure to always:
- Be on the floor!
- Be face to face and at their eye level
- Allow the child to take the lead
- Refrain from saying "say this" or "do this"
- Show the child how to accomplish a task by modeling and commenting
- Make the session fun and focus on the child's interests to increase participation
When play-based learning is performed appropriately, it can help children make better associations with real life events and create lasting memories needed to develop a solid foundation for all other developmental skills including language, physical development, and problem-solving!