Give a Toolbox, Not a Nail

Imagine you are working on a big carpentry project (this will be more of a stretch for some of us than others!).  What would be more helpful to you?  A person handing you just one nail at the right time, but nothing else, or a person who gives you a whole toolbox from which to choose after first showing you how to use each tool?  Kind of obvious, right?  A nail helps you in this minute.  It gets the job done but nothing more.  A toolbox, on the other hand, has infinite uses and gives you more control (you’re not waiting for someone to hand you the next nail).  Coaching parents is much the same. 


Let the parent in on your thought process.  Instead of saying “Say it this way” (that’s a nail — it helps in the moment and might get you to your goal with the child, but the parent is in the dark, even though she’s the one who said it), talk about why you are acoustically highlighting and choosing that particular form of acoustic highlighting.  Don’t throw the parent a nail so she can jump in in the moment.  Teach her what tool to select and why.  Model it yourself.  Catch yourself on your mistakes.  Put your heads together to decide which tool to use at a certain time.  Give parents the tools to use, and they’ll be able to “build” their child’s speech, language, and listening skills far beyond the time you’re able to spend with them.

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