Playful Literacy is a play-based after-school reading readiness class that uses movement and games to teach pre-literacy skills. Kids will learn letter identification, rhyming, syllable segmentation, and sound identification through whole body movements that make meaningful connections between sounds and letters. Kids will engage in play-based games, arts and crafts and movement activities like Sound Trivia and Pin the Tail on the Sound!
About the company
Indy Speech Services is a DOE-approved speech-language pathology (SLP) practice and an NYC certified minority and women-owned business founded by medical SLP, Frida Matute, in 2014. Her team of four medical SLPs focuses on providing the gold standard of care as it relates to speech pathology while also providing the community with innovative programming like Playful Literacy, a play-based literacy class for kids ages 3 – 5. Indy Speech Services collaborates frequently with Advocates for Children, NYU Child Study Center, P.A.L.S and private local academies.
Frida Matute is the Founding Executive Director of Indy Speech Services. She has a graduate degree from Northwestern University with a specific specialization in neurogenic communication disorders. She completed her clinical fellowship at NYU Rusk Rehabilitation where she treated both adults and pediatric patients in both inpatient and outpatient settings. She has been practicing as a medical speech-language pathologist for nearly a decade with ASHA and TSSLD certifications. She has appeared several times on Sirius XM Doctor Radio and has publications on American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
We caught up with Frida and this is what she had to say:
How and why did you start Indy Speech Services?
I started Indy Speech Services while working part-time in NYC’s largest hospital settings including NYU’s RUSK and HJD as well as Bellevue. I started Indy Speech Services in order to disrupt the traditional productivity model that is often cumbersome on clinicians in medical settings. To do so, I offered an intensity of services to drive outcomes based on evidence-based approaches for a premium. Those premium services allowed me to offer excellence in care while staying relevant and competitive with the best speech pathologists in the city.
I always wanted to apply my creativity into my work. I started a blog to share information about communication disorders with caregivers when I first graduated. That evolved and in 2016, I started Indy Talk Shop, an educational toy company that made toy kits to guide parents in interactive play opportunities with their kids. Indy Talk Shop was a semi-finalist in the annual NYU Entrepreneurial Competition. At that point, I was working at Bellevue, Indy Talk Shop and Indy Speech Services and was pregnant with my first! I decided to scale down and focus on Indy Speech Services after having my daughter who is now eight months old.
“Frida Matute is the most wise, skilled and compassionate therapist we have ever worked with. Her rapport with our son is incredible and she is incredibly thorough in working with parents in a team effort for therapy – including frequent follow up, video instruction of exercises and feedback for progress. She is a reassuring and kind therapist.”
— Rita K.
What do you like most about working with children?
Children are the most resilient, creative and inspiring humans on the planet. They see the everyday humor and strangeness of the world in a way that I find totally captivating and admirable. They remind me to play every day and not to take myself so seriously.
Do you have any fun stories about your classes?
The expression, “Kids say the darndest things” is very true! We have a constant flow of funny questions and comments from our students, but one that I always think about is the time that I got an entire family to do an obstacle course. I love obstacle courses for literacy! I was working with a child who had a lot of energy, so I had to figure out a way to teach reading readiness skills without having her sit for too long. One day, on an impulse, I pretended to hold a mic and in an announcer’s voice asked her if she was ready for the competition! She looked at me squarely, confused but intrigued. I placed reading and sound cards in different places all over her living room like on top of the couch, on the window sill, etc. I mapped out the course. She had to start at the rhyming center (next to the window sill) and fill out five rhymes before walking across a bench with all the reading cards across them that she had to read. Then, she had to jump off and clap out syllables that were laid out in a circle on the floor and finally finish by identifying the first sounds in words by placing colorful tokens on the words under the coffee table. We made such a racket, that her siblings came to see what we were up to. I decided to include everyone at that point! I had the youngest brother bouncing a balloon off a closet door as many times as possible with the understanding that if he dropped it, my student doing the obstacle course would lose. I had an older sibling making a video of my student doing the obstacle course on their iPad for their “audience” (really, mom and dad) and I had the oldest sibling as a cheerleader for the student. They had a fabulous time and did not want to stop! It was lovely to see how engaged everyone became when we approached learning with play and movement. It was great to incorporate all the kids in a fun activity while also motivating my student to learn!
What do kids learn in your classes and what are the benefits of it?
Our Playful Literacy classes are based on Orton-Gillingham methods, which is one of the most effective ways of teaching pre-literacy and literacy skills because incorporates multi-sensory modalities to learning. The curriculum, my original design, takes the most critical aspects of reading and involves kids in movement activities like sound Jeopardy, Pin-the-Sound on the Donkey and Telephone. Curriculums for preschoolers focus on self-regulation and active listening, which are foundational for acquiring pre-literacy skills. The kindergarten curriculum centers on the building blocks for reading readiness like rhyming, syllable segmentation, sound manipulation, identification of phonemes and simple encoding and decoding skills. Children build vision boards for letters and their sounds, make their own letter tiles like in Scrabble and work in teams in letter/sound scavenger hunts and hide-and-seek games. The benefits of incorporating play and movement in learning literacy are that the concepts become tangible, concrete and sticky for kids. This allows for the motivation to read to grow, which requires persistence and diligence.
What are some offline resources parents can use to learn more?
Parents can download our curriculum on our website. Upon signing up, they will be able to download our e-book filled with play-based literacy activities to try at home!
What is the one lesson you want kids to take away from your classes?
I want kids to be motivated to learn. Lifelong learning is an extraordinary way to commit passion and fuel energy into your everyday. I think it is critical for happiness and success.
“Highly professional, friendly, excellent services overall. We are seeing superb outcomes with our son’s speech. Highest recommendation.”
— Lauren S.
The Playful Literacy curriculum drives a dynamic experience to get kids motivated to read and instill a love of learning. Classes are led by reading specialists and speech-language pathologists with master’s degrees in language development and training in highly effective reading programs like Orton-Gillingham. The teacher to student ratio of 1:5 ensures classes focus on learning outcomes while having fun. All classes come with an e-book of activities to try at home! Book on GoBambino!