“I spoke to [child’s name] yesterday and she is so much clearer than before. I can understand what she is saying now. She still has a long way to go, but you can see the progress and it’s even impacting on her phonics – she’s moved up to a higher group.”Kate Hunter, Key Stage 1 Lead Teacher
Communication was the top entry-level skill required by employers according to a survey done by the British Chambers of Commerce Business and Education in 2015.
According to the survey, good communication skills were most valued (88%), rated above literacy, numeracy, computer skills and teamwork.Statistic “Good communication skills are valued”
“The ability to use spoken language effectively has to be learned; and even highly intelligent people may not have learned how best to use talk to get things done”Quote “Professor Neil Mercer, Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Cambridge”
“It’s been a godsend to have Jenny [the therapist] in our school – she already feels like one of the team. She is brilliant at supporting staff to work with groups of children as well as working in the classroom and with individuals. She is key to making the changes we need to see in order to impact on the children’s speech and language.”Lottie Ransom, SENCo
We know from research that around 50% of children in areas of disadvantage have speech, language and communication needs that may affect their learning, social and emotional development.
Statistic “Many children benefit from early targeted support”
Supporting Children with SLCN
For many children with Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN), just getting through the day can be incredibly challenging.
It can be exhausting to be surrounded by words when you find them so difficult; trying to follow and understand what is being said; getting your voice heard in group discussions or explaining what you’ve learned or what you need.
Life can be challenging when communication is difficult.
All children with SLCN benefit from being around adults who understand the nature of their difficulties, whether that be in the classroom, playground, at home or out and about.
Some children with SLCN need additional support or intervention, in small groups or individually, in and out of the classroom, at home. Some of this work can be complex and intensive, needing support from speech and language therapists or other professionals with specialist expertise.
However, there are small actions we can all take that make life easier for children with SLCN. Over the next few weeks, we will be posting some quick fix “tweaks” we can all do which can make things a little easier for children with SLCN, especially when done consistently over time.
Watch out for the #TweakOfTheWeek and share whatever small changes you’ve made that’s worked for you and the children you work or live with.
To get us started, see below for a small (though surprisingly difficult) tweak the evidence says can make a difference…
There is one very simple thing we can all do to support children with SLCN. It’s free (kind of) and you don’t need lots of expensive training or equipment.
TIME is the thing!
That old age commodity that we never seem to have enough of…but time is so important for children with SLCN.
Children with SLCN need that little bit more time
time to process what has been said
to work out what the words and sentences mean
time to think of an answer
to formulate a response
time to work out which words to use
to organise them in a sentence
time to find the right speech sounds
to check out it makes sense…
and that’s just the start of it…!
But time really helps.
Research tells us that there is an optimum amount of time between asking a question and expecting an answer  . According to the research, this additional time can result in better questions as well as better answers…for all children and the teachers who work with them!
Children with SLCN need this time – and often more. As a speech and language therapist, I realise I am very lucky to be able to give children lots of time to do their thinking. It’s a real privilege to be able to allow a good chunk of thinking time so that children can come up with their good ideas and take the time to explain them.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m also guilty of rushing through life, dashing here and there, being very busy, hurrying conversations on because we should be somewhere, seeing someone or doing something…
But when we do slow down the pace, it can be amazing to see the benefit it can have on all children, though most particularly those with Speech, Language and Communication Needs. I’ve had some of the best ever conversations with these children…it just takes a bit of time.
For an example of the types of difficulties children with SLCN can experience, take a look at this video by the Communication Trust. A group of wonderful and brave children with language disorders agreed to share their time and have a chat …
Learning new words can be tricky for some children. Sorting and categorising is a great way to help learn new words… https://t.co/ZF3o4ZvTEQ
We've been playing a couple of Easter themed games to help with listening and talking and thought we would share –… https://t.co/g0pzuXJDBD
With spring in the air and Easter around the corner, we’re sharing our top tips for building understanding and use… https://t.co/dkk9IGMnUS
We've been playing a couple of Easter themed games in the build up to Easter and thought we would share... some to… https://t.co/Z2OEWIKdfP
We've been playing a couple of Easter themed games in the build up to Easter and thought we would share...some top… https://t.co/2JU3PdgAvB
Language Activities for Easter
With Easter just around the corner and Spring in the air, nature is providing us with lots of fantastic new things to talk about with our children, plus stories of the Easter Bunny and the promise of chocolate eggs.
We’re suggesting a couple of activities to build up children’s listening, talking and social interaction skills.
Talking and interacting with children seems like the easiest thing in the world, though when children struggle to develop language, it can make us feel less sure, less confident we are doing the right things.
Generally speaking, when we are interested in what children have to say and aim to make the time for those lovely conversations young children share with us, we won’t be going far wrong!