SPARK Communication: Coaching Parents to Use Hanen Strategies


Boost the early language outcomes of the children on your caseload. SPARK Communication™ is an intensive two-day Hanen training designed specifically for professionals who work with young children with language delays and their families.

Participants learn research-based responsive interaction strategies – drawn from Hanen’s It Takes Two to Talk® guidebook and program – that are known to accelerate children’s early language development. They also learn how to coach parents to apply these strategies during everyday interactions with their child to make language learning a natural, ongoing process for the child.

Based on current research and best practice, SPARK Communication offers the framework early (childhood) intervention providers need to effectively support children’s early communication development by making parents a central part of the intervention process. By taking this training, providers learn:

  1. The four early communication stages and styles, and how the various interactive roles parents play affect their child’s opportunities to interact and learn.
  2. The evidence-based interaction and language-building strategies that accelerate early communication development.
  3. A coaching framework for involving and teaching parents so they play a key role in facilitating their child’s early communication development.
  4. A concrete plan for applying the SPARK coaching framework and interaction strategies with the families on their caseload.
  5. A set of outstanding resources to support their daily work with families.
  6. A common language and approach to use with other members of multidisciplinary teams in order to provide consistent and cohesive service to each family.

Who SPARK Communication is for:
SPARK Communication is most valuable to those working within multi-disciplinary, trans-disciplinary, and Key Worker models to support young children with language and/or developmental delays. These professionals include:

  • Occupational therapists
  • Physical therapists
  • Early (childhood) intervention providers
  • Early (childhood) intervention providers and special educators
  • Special education teachers
  • Early intervention administrators
  • Social workers/Family therapists
  • Psychologists
  • Direct care staff/therapy assistants
  • Nurses/medical staff

Course Objectives

Upon completion of the SPARK Communication™ workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Describe The Hanen Centre’s family-centered approach to early language intervention
  • Utilize facilitative communication techniques during all interactions with parents
  • Identify two essential components of effective communication intervention
  • Determine adult-child interaction patterns using Hanen assessment terminology
  • Identify appropriate communication targets for children based on adult-child interaction patterns
  • Describe evidence-based, responsive interaction strategies that are known to facilitate pleasurable, extended adult-child interactions
  • Apply the Hanen coaching framework to facilitate parents’ use of responsive interaction strategies with their child


Texas Children's Hospital
Feigin Center
1102 Bates, 1st floor conference room A
Houston, TX 77030

Cost -  


Earned credits -  

13 contact hours or CCU’s will be applied for through TPTA, TOTA, and ASHA

Registration - Register online


Toby Stephan, MA, CCC-SLP, Hanen US Representative, is a speech-language pathologist who has specialized in early language intervention. With over 20 years’ experience, he has led numerous Hanen Programs for parents and early childhood educators. He has been a workshop instructor for The Hanen Centre since 2000, providing Hanen training to speech-language pathologists and early intervention professionals. He co-developed and serves as Clinical Director of the SPARK Communication™ workshop.


08:00-08:30  Registration

08:30-10:15  Family Involvement

  • Why involve families?
  • How do we define involvement?
  • Parent-implemented intervention

Our Role:  Coaching

  • Key elements of coaching
  • Parents as adult learners

10:15-10:30  BREAK

10:30-12:00  An Overview of Learning

  • What do we want children and parents to learn?

Taking a Closer Look at the Family

  • How and why children communicate
  • Children’s stages of communication
  • Children’s communication styles
  • Parent roles
  • Facilitative context for learning

12:00-01:00  LUNCH

01:00-02:30  Strategy 1:  Let the Child Lead

  • OWL:  Observe, Wait, Listen

02:30-02:45  BREAK

02:45-04:30  Strategy 2:  Follow the Child’s Lead

  • Join in the child’s play
  • Imitate
  • Interpret
  • Comment

Wrap-up and Evaluation


08:30-10:15  Coaching:  What Works?

  • A review of the coaching literature
  • Self-reflection on coaching practices

Coaching:  4-Step Coaching Model

  • Get the parent ready for the learning
  • Show and tell

10:15-10:30  BREAK

10:30-12:00  Coaching:  4-Step Coaching Model, Continued

  • Try it out and talk it over
  • Next steps

12:00-01:00  LUNCH

01:00-02:30  Strategy 3:  Keep Conversation Going

  • Match your child’s turn
  • Cue your child’s turn
  • Using questions

02:30-02:45  BREAK

02:45-04:30  Strategy 4:  SPARK

  • Building turns in routines

Back to the Beginning

  • Setting the stage for partnership
  • Look for common ground

Wrap-up and Evaluation


Wyndham Medical Center
6800 Main
Houston, Texas 77030
Nightly rate: $115.00 (price varies based on room availability)

Ask for Texas Children’s Hospital ESP Rate

Hotel Registration link