5 Ways to Improve Carryover and Generalization in Speech Therapy

5 Ways to Improve Carryover and Generalization in Speech Therapy

One of the trickiest parts of speech therapy is achieving carryover and generalization. While making progress within speech therapy sessions is important, it is even more imperative that children transfer their acquired skills to daily life outside the speech therapy session. Any clinician knows this is much easier said than done. This blog post provides five effective strategies to enhance generalization and carryover of learned skills.

1. Real-World Practice and Application

Encourage real-world practice by integrating speech exercises into daily activities. The more the speech therapy activities resemble real life (like outside the speech therapy room), the better chance that child will have of carrying over and applying those skills. You might consider embedding target sounds into tasks like storytelling, pretending to order food at a restaurant, or even in casual conversations. By doing so, clients can bridge the gap between the therapeutic setting and the real-world scenarios they encounter.

2. Collaborative Goal Setting

Involve your clients in goal setting! This allows the child to take ownership of their progress and can improve intrinsic motivation. You might consider integrating aspects that align with the child's interests and daily routines. When clients have a personal investment in their goals, they are more likely to carry over learned skills outside of the speech therapy room.

3. Incorporate Varied Environments:

Allowing for practice across a variety of contexts, environments and communication partners allows clients to improve adaptability, increasing the chance for carryover to take place outside the speech room. Consider taking sessions outside, pushing into classroom, going into the community, having joint sessions or talking to new communication partners. While this may look different depending on your setting and child needs, make sure you consider variety when it comes to practice settings. After all, you never know what life outside the speech therapy room will throw at your clients!

4. Involve Family and Support Networks

When you consider the amount of time a child spends in speech therapy compared to other contexts, such as school and home, you will likely realize that they, relatively speaking, don't spend much time with you (the clinician) at all! Involving family and support networks (e.g., teachers, aids, etc.) can improve the amount of time the child is able to practice and receive constructive feedback. Again, especially depending on your setting, this can be much easier said than done. Providing resources and strategies for family members to reinforce learned skills at home (or in the classroom) increases the likelihood of generalization and carryover occurring.

Sending home "homework" or home practice tasks can help give parents and support networks explicit instructions to help engage children in additional practice at home. We know this is tricky-- especially since interaction with parents can be limited and because, at the end of the day, parents are not clinicians.

Based on clinician and parent request, we crafted helpful carryover and home practice sheets that can be customized by the clinician and sent home to guide home practice and facilitate effective carryover and generalization. Check them out here!

5. Use Technology as a Tool

We live in a day and age where, via technology, we have so much at our fingertips! While this can certainly be a two-edged sword and should be used wisely, there are certainly options for leveraging technology to enhance carryover. You might consider using online resources, short videos (e.g., practice retelling), Boom Cards (see an example below), or a camera to make a video. These tools provide a familiar, motivating and accessible medium for extending speech therapy activities.

Open ended resources can be a fun, motivating way to improve carryover and generalization by utilizing new, motivating activities. We created play-based, open-ended interactive scenes to help with generalization and carryover of skills in fun, diverse contexts! Check them out here!


Improving carryover in speech therapy is an ongoing and collaborative effort and is, as mentioned multiple times in this blog post, MUCH easier said than done. By embracing real-world applications, involving clients in goal setting, varying therapy environments, engaging family support, and leveraging technology, speech therapists can empower client to generalize their new skills effectively and readily.

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