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Speech Therapy Starter Guide: Everything You Need to Know

Updated: Sep 21, 2022

You've got a picture in your head of what speech therapy is. Maybe you’ve heard stories, seen it in a movie, or had speech therapy as a child. We're here to make progress fun! Gone are the days of practicing speech sounds sitting at a desk. A typical speech and language session with us looks a lot more like play and keeps the learning process interactive!

Speech therapy

Our team has worked with hundreds of families throughout San Francisco and Southern Marin to help grow their child's communication skills. We have decades of experience making speech therapy look and feel like play. We pride ourselves on our close-knit relationships with both the children we serve, and their families.

It can be overwhelming and scary to start. We're here to be supportive and guide families along their own speech therapy journey, as part of the child's team.

Before starting: Find Out if Speech Therapy is Recommended

If you're wondering whether speech and language therapy is recommended for your child, book a free call with us. The call usually takes 15-20 minutes and helps us learn about your child's needs and helps you learn more about our therapy style. Now, let's get to the good stuff- our complete guide to speech therapy!


Speech and Language Therapy: 3 Ways to Get Started

Yay! You've decided to start in-home speech therapy. There are a few ways we can begin:

#1: A speech sound only evaluation: This is recommended to look at the way sounds are produced. Common examples include errors like, "wed" for "red", "othuh" for "other", any "lisping", "kunk" for "skunk", "fedder" for "feather", deleting sounds, or not yet using a sound which they should have at their age.

#2: A complete speech and language evaluation: Our complete evaluation. This is recommended to look at the way sounds are produced (see above), how language is a.) understood (e.g. following directions, remembering, and understanding information), b.) organized (e.g. sentence organization, grammar concepts) and c.) used meaningfully (e.g. vocabulary). This test can also include an evaluation of social and play skills.

#3: An area-specific evaluation: This is recommended when there is one area we'd like to take a look at closely, such as stuttering or social skills.

#4: Bring your recent evaluation completed within the last 6 months: If you've already had an evaluation done that includes all areas of concerns, bring it with you and we can usually use it to start speech therapy sessions!

Now that you know the four ways to get started, it's time to learn what a typical speech session looks like.

What does a typical speech therapy session look like?

Now that we've got the evaluation, report, goals, and report review meeting finished, we can start sessions!

Depending on the child's specific goals, sessions with Speech SF are usually 30-minutes or 45-minutes long, once or twice a week.

A Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) will arrive at the family's home, usually with a bag of toys in tow. Then, we will find a place to play that is somewhat free of distractions, but motivating. This could be the child's room, the living room, or their play area.

If a child is under or at the age of 3, parents and/or caregivers are asked to join the session. If a child is 4 years or older, we usually can complete the therapy activities and catch up with parents at the end of the session to relay home practice ideas.

Therapy activities can range from books, blocks, boardgames, mealtime, or playtime. We follow the child's interests and incorporate speech therapy exercises into them! This will cover most of the 30 or 45-minute session time.

At the end of the session, usually with 3-5 minutes left, we will review which goals we worked on and recommended practice to complete before the next session.

The Speech Therapy Journey

Above we reviewed how to start speech therapy and what a typical session looks like. Now, you're probably wondering "When do we finish speech therapy?". This is different for everyone and is affected by consistency (i.e. how often the child has speech sessions and home practice they complete) and speed of progress.

At the start of therapy, we can't correctly guess how long a child will be in speech because we don't know how quickly they will progress.

In general, once the child's goals have been met with 80-90% accuracy, and they are at or above their age-level, they graduate speech!

Sometimes a child will graduate and return to speech therapy later. This could be recommended if they have all the skills which are expected at their current age level, but might become delayed once new skills are added as they age. For example, a child working on the "L" sound at 4, might use it all the time and graduate speech. At 6, they might not be using the "R" sound correctly and would return to speech therapy, now that the "R" is age appropriate.

Preparing for Your First Session

Before the first session, parents often ask: "What should I tell my child?" and "What do we need to have ready?".

We'd love to start off our sessions in the most fun and positive way possible. When speaking about our first session, you can be as honest with your child as you'd like (explaining in depth, depending on their age). We often recommend, "A teacher is coming to play", or "A grown up is coming to show you how to make new sounds!".

As far as preparing the space before your first session, we recommend having a few of their favorite toys available to share and make the space comfortable. If there are any siblings at home, we recommend having their own activity available so that the focus remains on the speech therapy with the enrolled child.


Email us at or schedule a free call with us to learn more! We are so excited to work with you and grow your child's skills at home!


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