Identifying and supporting students with communication difficulties and providing language enrichment throughout Elementary School are critical components of ISKL’s Early Childhood education program. Our speech and language curriculum is led by Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) Kathryn Balsamo who is responsible for ensuring elementary students have full support in this important area by providing in-class lessons as well as intensive one-to-one or group therapy as needed. ISKL is one of the only international schools in Kuala Lumpur offering all elementary students access to a dedicated, in-house, full-time SLP and speech therapy.
Speech-Language Pathology is not simply about speech; it encompasses all aspects of communication including sounds, vocabulary, grammar and sentence structure, comprehension, social and literacy skills. Each aspect can impact a child’s listening and attention skills and ultimately affect their behavior and learning. Communication and language problems that are left unnoticed or untreated in the early years of school are likely to continue throughout school and into adulthood.
“It is widely accepted that learning and development are at their highest rate in the preschool years, and early intervention has been proven to have a significant impact on a child’s development. It can help to improve their ability to communicate, interact with others, and improve their social skills and emotional development. At ISKL we want each child to fulfill their potential, and by providing specifically designed language lessons, all our students benefit.” (Kathryn Balsamo, ISKL’s Speech Language Pathologist)
From Prep Reception through to Grade 5, Kathryn provides tailored, in-class language enrichment for students in the areas of executive functioning, visualizing, and social thinking. Her classes help young learners develop both their verbal and written skills.
Carolyn Curtis, ISKL’s Pre-Junior Team Leader, describes these lessons as, “highly engaging, developmentally appropriate, and designed to make learning fun.” She adds, “The children LOVE Kate’s classes. In the Early Childhood program, we follow a ‘learn through play philosophy, and Kate definitely embraces this guiding principle – I never knew prepositions could be so much fun! Her regular input significantly helps develop our early learners’ language and speech skills.”
On an individual level, Kathryn works with teachers to identify students who need additional support outside of the classroom to address language, articulation, and fluency concerns. Depending on the intensity of the speech and language support required, students may receive therapy up to three times per week. This service has been a bonus for many ISKL families who previously sought external assistance with speech therapy. In addition to convenience and cost-saving, the complimentary in-house service provided at our Elementary School is particularly valuable as it is aligned with a child’s in-class learning program and progress can be shared in real-time with the child’s teacher.
Kathryn also works closely with the Life-Centred Education (LCE) team, to develop tailored speech-language programs for students who have a diagnosed intellectual or developmental disability and require one-on-one academic and social skill instruction. Students enrolled in this program benefit from individually tailored support provided by specialist educators such as Kathryn, who focus on teaching literacy, mathematics, social, and life skills.
About Kathryn Balsamo
Kathryn holds a Bachelor’s degree in Speech Pathology, a Masters of Science in Education – Communication Disorders, and a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Regionally, Kathryn serves on the Special Education Network in Asia (SENIA) Board as the current Chairperson and is one of the founding board members and co-chair of a local SENIA chapter in Malaysia, SENIM (Special Education Network in Malaysia).
Kathryn has worked at ISKL since 2011.