Home exercise programs (HEPs) are customized plans that are designed to specifically target identified areas of weakness. They are typically an extension of therapy tasks that are explained and are structured in such a way that they can be practiced outside of the therapy environment. Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, and Speech-Language Pathologists know the golden rule that the more time an individual devotes to a specific skill, the greater their strength and/or ability will be to perform this task across a variety of settings- this is the ultimate goal for therapy. A common misconception is that HEP often take up a significant amount of time and/or that many parents/caregivers are constantly on the go with a pile of academic homework to complete in the evenings – who actually has time for additional work outside of everything else they have to do?
As a busy SLP, I find it important to encourage parents and remind them that completing HEPs does not have to be something extravagant. We are fortunate to be in a word full of easily accessible handouts, downloads, and printable exercise worksheets- we also should encourage parents/caregivers that simple daily interactions can support and grow their child’s skills. Below are some easy HEP ideas for families on the go…
Scavenger Hunt: Create a scavenger hunt around the house- You can target this with either language or articulation- the possibilities are endless! Start by searching for items that include either their target articulation sounds or searching for objects by function “Find 2 things that we can use to clean the floor”, “Find something we use to clean ourselves.
Read Books: Reading is a simple and parent/child engaging task that not only can be used to target speech-language therapy tasks, but also cultivate early literacy skills. Read books that include topics or items of interest for your child. While reading, stop and ask simple inferencing questions “What will happen next?”, “What do you think _ is thinking?”, “Where will _ go?”
I-Spy: I-Spy is a great on-the-go activity that you can use for both language and articulation. Looking for items with target articulation sounds or expanding sentences, “I spy car” parent will expand “Yes, you see a big green car!”