Can speech therapy be done in 5 minutes?  Should it be done in 5 minutes?  Speech-language pathologist Carrie Clark explores how long a speech session should be at home or in speech therapy.  Plus, Carrie discusses the merits of the 5-minute speech session model and how it is helping some SLPs reduce the number of minutes each child is seen while shortening the amount of total time they are in speech therapy.


How Long Should Speech Therapy Sessions Last?

  • All kids are different, each one needs different about.  Talk to speech therapist
  • Basic Learning
    • More practice is better
    • More repetitions are better (re-train brain and muscles)
    • Doesn’t help to practice the wrong way
    • Willingham in 2002 found: distributed practice (shorter more frequent sessions) were more effective than mass practice (longer, less frequent sessions)
    • Shorter session require attention for a shorter time, fewer inappropriate behaviors
    • ASHA Preschool NOMS: Articulation, Pragmatics, and Cognitive Orientation did better with individual therapy, didn’t matter for spoken language production and comprehension
    • Kids in groups often get fewer reps
      • Groups are needed for some skills
  • What do we want?
    • A lot of repetitions of the correct way per session
    • shorter sessions
    • individual sessions
  • Home Practice:
    • Good news for parents, you can do this easily!
    • Use what your SLP gives you, or find the hardest level of a skill that your child can do successfully
    • Do short practice sessions with many reps
    • Limit distractions, just one-on-one with your child
    • My Experience: Do best with 2 times per day for 5-10 minutes per session
    • For SLPs: To make maximum progress, send homework that is the hardest level the child can do independently and instruct parents to run through the skill 2x per day
  • How to Do as SLP in School?
    • High caseload, each child has many minutes, need to group to get them all in, possibly scheduled at multiple schools throughout the week
    • has a very cool idea
      • 5-minute sessions
      • several times per week
      • individual therapy
      • Research on their website about how it works (don’t know if this research is peer reviewed but definitely worth looking into):
        • Students went from avg 210 minutes per month of therapy to 35 minutes per month (16% of the time)
        • Went from average of 15 months in therapy to 9.5 months (finished in 63% of the time)
        • Whoa!
      • Key is getting a whole bunch of repetitions in a short amount of time and doing that more frequently (50-100 reps per session)
      • How many sessions?
        • Mild Disorder 2-3 sessions weekly
        • Moderate Disorder 3-4 sessions weekly
        • Severe Disorder 4-5 sessions weekly
        • If only schedule in school 2 days per week, do 2x per day, 2 days per week
        • If you do this, each child will have fewer total minutes but progress faster
      • Study was done on speech sounds but could be used for language as well
  • How to get that many reps in without child losing interest:
      • has games you can play
      • One idea from them is to have a bag full of coins.  One coin is red.  Child and therapist take turns pulling out coins (child says word before each coin).  If the red coin is pulled, that person has to put all of their coins back (bankrupt!).  Person with the most coins at the end of 5 minutes wins.
      • Do motor challenges while they say their words:
        • How many of your words can you say (correctly) while holding this yoga pose?  Have a selection of yoga poses to choose from.  I like yoga pretzels cards or look some up online
        • How many words can you say while doing a motor task like standing on one foot?
      • Trace lines or shapes with dry erase markers while saying words

Another Approach: Speedy Speech

I just spoke with the owners of “Speedy Speech” which is another program for shorter, individual speech sessions.  Here’s what she has to say about their program (which looks awesome in my opinion!)

Speedy Speech™ has a…

  • Step-by-Step Manual,
  • the Auditory Bombardment is organized in minimal triplet sets,
  • 4 sections of Auditory Discrimination sets on one page,
  • and the colorful picture, work/phrase/sentence are on one page organized in one and two syllable sections.
  • Also included is a reproducible yearly calendar,
  • parent and teacher letters to introduce the program and for any changes,
  • and parent/student rating scale.
  • The Therapy Log form is designed to help track individual progress and evaluate/measure student performance on a session by session basis.  It is organized for quick and easy data entry.

We designed the program so that a SLP sees the child for approximately 10 minutes, included the relevant homework review, drill, marks the Log Sheet and is finished for the day.  No nightly/weekend work!  No looking for activities, lessons, games, homework, etc.  Start the next session where you left off.  The work was ALL done for an SLP.  Teachers and parents love the quickness of not having the child out of the classroom and students out of therapy in less time.  All data, research driven.

The HOME page is  and the PROGRAM SAMPLE page is

Thanks for Listening!

As always, I would love for you to leave an honest review on i-Tunes so we can get the word out about this podcast.  As a thank you, I am giving away a free copy of my e-book about how to teach a new speech sound to anyone who leaves me an honest review on i-Tunes.  You can claim that free e-book by visiting


Willingham, D (2002) Allocating Student Study Time: Massed versus “Distributed”
Practice American Educator

More Resources for Speech-Language Pathologists:

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