Speech therapy is such a broad field that it needs to be based on reliable methods combined with creativity. Children struggling with speech delays or any kind of communication issues need their parents and teachers to use innovative methods to help them overcome these issues. This is why speech therapy experts and teachers should always strive to try out new approaches to conducting speech therapy successfully.
For this reason, more and more speech therapy practitioners and parents working with their children are trying out the 4 Square writing approach developed in 1999 by Judith S. Gould and Evan Jay Gould. If you’d like to learn more about this method and how it can help children with speech delays and disorders, just keep reading.
Here’s everything you need to know about the 4 Square writing approach and four convincing reasons to use it in speech therapy.
What is the 4 Square Writing Approach?
Let’s start by explaining exactly what the 4 Square writing approach is, and how it works. It’s quite simple.
The 4 Square writing approach is a method that helps young students learn how to write meaningful pieces of text, whether it’s a short paragraph or a short essay. It’s called “4 Square” because it relies on visual and kinesthetic aids to help the students complete their writing tasks.
Here’s how it works:
- children draw a large rectangle on a piece of paper
- they divide it into 4 rectangles
- they draw an additional center rectangle that overlaps with all the rest
The center rectangle defines the topic of the writing task or the topic sentence in case of more complex writing assignments. The top rectangles and the left bottom one are supporting details or a supporting sentence. The bottom right rectangle is a summary one, that draws some kind of a conclusion and groups all the rest rectangles together.
Here’s an example to help you understand it better:
It works the same with more complex tasks like this one:
This method helps students form ideas, link them together and create whole pieces of meaningful text. But, how does it work in speech therapy?
Why use the 4 Square writing approach in speech therapy?
You may be wondering how a writing method can be of assistance in speech therapy. The truth is, all language skills are linked together and support one another.
This is why, oftentimes, children with speech delays also struggle with another part of the language learning and using aspect, such as writing, listening, or reading.
This is why using the 4 Square writing approach can significantly improve children’s speech delay issues. The list below explains different aspects of using the 4 Square writing approach to improve speech therapy. Here are 4 reasons why to use it.
- Organizing Thoughts
Many children who experience any form of speech delay have the problem of organizing their thoughts into meaningful wholes. This makes forming sentences difficult and prevents them from speaking freely.
The 4 Square language approach is great for practicing the skill of thought organizing. Children will learn how to gradually link together ideas, first on paper and then in speech.
The best way to perform this exercise is the following:
- start with simple words like in the fruits example we gave you
- fill out some of the squares for the children to use as guidance
- later on, just fill out one square and ask them to do the rest
This way, children will learn how to connect words into sentences. This will help them with more complex tasks later, and teach them how to think.
2. Building Vocabulary
Building vocabulary is another common difficulty children with speech delay face. It’s another aspect of speaking that they need to work on.
You can change the 4 Square approach method slightly, to help children practice building vocabulary. Here’s an idea:
- create two different sets of topics, e.g. “animals” and “occupations”
- provide a number of cards with words such as elephant, nurse, monkey, and teacher written on each one
- ask the children to categorize the cards into the right topic
Later on, you can ask them to come up with more words on their own, assign new topics, and play with different variations of building vocabulary.
3. Building Longer Sentences
By the age of 3, most children should be able to build longer, meaningful sentences such as, “Where is mommy?” or “I like ice cream.” But even older children in speech therapy often show the inability to do so due to the issues they’re facing.
The 4 Square approach is a good exercise for learning how to build longer sentences and mastering this skill faster.
Children who use the 4 Square approach in speech therapy will learn how to:
- understand what a topic is
- think about the topic
- add supporting details to the topic
- build a meaningful sentence
The visual nature of the 4 Square approach further boosts the speech improvement process because it allows the children to see and touch the words in front of them. This creates additional paths in their brains that allow for better information processing.
Later on, they can continue using this approach through elementary and even high school, just as so many children already do. And, SpeedyPaper can help out those who struggle with complex writing tasks such as school essays and papers.
4. Active Learning
Speech therapy needs to be engaging and creative to ensure the children are actively engaged in the process. You need their full attention to make better progress.
The 4 Square learning approach is a dynamic exercise that can have several variations and creative modifications, which means it can be adapted to the needs of every individual child.
And, customized exercises enhance active learning and get the most out of every child.
The 4 Square method has proven to be successful in different aspects of speech therapy. Teachers and specialists use it to help children with various types of language delay and speech disorders.
Hopefully, this article will inspire you to use the 4 Square method and help your child or student make progress in speech therapy.
Jessica Fender is a professional writer and educational blogger at Edubirdie. Jessica enjoys sharing her ideas to make writing and learning fun.