SUPPORT CHILDREN??™S SPEECH, LANGUAGE AND COMMUNICATION.
Speech is how we physically produce the sounds that make up a language. Speech is made up of, amongst other things: tone, pitch and volume.
Language is a collection of symbols, verbal or other that allows people with a common language to understand each other. Most languages are spoken and written while others rely on signs and gestures.
Communication is forms of expression that allow ourselves to be understood and to understand others. Effective communication relies on various skills including listening, turn taking, a mutual language and the ability to express oneself.
When a child cannot communicate effectively because they are deficient in speech and or language skills and finds it difficult to understand and be understood by others, the child has SLCN (Speech Language and Communication Needs).
If a child has developed the age appropriate SLC skills, they will have the ability to learn because they will understand the information that is being communicated to them.
Children who are able to express their feelings effectively will be able to ask for help with having their basic needs met and as a result be more content.
Good communication skills will influence positive behaviour because a child will be able to understand how they are expected to behave. Children with appropriate SLC skills are more likely to be understood, making them feel included, sociable and able to build friendships.
Children with SLCN may find it more difficult to understand instructions and may fail reaching their full potential if they are not taught to communicate effectively.
If children do not understand what they are being taught, they will not be able to learn effectively. If they are unable to develop the necessary learning skills when they are young, the problem may persist and as a result they might ???fall behind??? in school. This may distress them and lower their self-worth.
Children who are unable to communicate their feelings effectively will find it frustrating and may end up not having their emotional needs met. In the long term, this may damage the individual??™s self- identity.
A child who finds it difficult to make themself understood may adopt a disruptive behaviour pattern through lack of understanding and may start acting inappropriately. Initial attention seeking behaviour may turn into anger if not managed properly and eventually the individual may withdraw or isolated themselves.
A child with SLCD will find it hard to interact socially and as a result may find it difficult to make friends. The eventual outcome may include loss of confidence and isolation.
Supporting children with SLC skills is a vital step towards helping a child achieve a positive outcome.
Communicating with children is the most basic and essential form of support we can offer. Chatting to children while they play will ensure a relaxed atmosphere and talking to a child when he or she is doing something that they enjoy will help achieve positive results. Recognising each individual??™s SLC skills will help with determining the level in which we should communicate with them. As practitioners we must be patient when talking to children and give them enough time to digest what has been said and time for them to formulate an answer. This is important for children with SLCN and for children who may speak a different language at home. If a child is distracted it may be necessary to talk to them directly using their name, eye contact or even a light touch to get their attention. In some cases it may be necessary to remove distractions to enable children to concentrate more easily. The opposite may also work as some children react positively to the use of a puppet. Speaking slowly and pronouncing works correctly, overacting and using expressive language will help children understand what you are telling them. Listening carefully to what children are trying to tell you and by maintaining an interest in what they are saying, using supportive language and questions without overcorrecting their speech will extend the child??™s SLC skills and build confidence. Using Makaton may prove advantageous for children with SLCN and PECS cards should be considered if a child has little or no speech.
If we are able to support and extend a child??™s SLC skills, the child will become a better communicator. This will not only benefit the child but it will also affect all the people that the child interacts with. The Parents or carers will be able to understand the child better and in so doing meet the child??™s needs. This will have a snowball effect because the child will react positively to having their needs met and will try to communicate more and more.
When children start attending our settings we should ascertain their SLC proficiency. Some children may be fairly fluent speakers while others may not. Some children may find it very difficult to communicate and others may have special needs. Some children may speak a different language at home while others may not speak at all. It is important to identify each individual??™s needs and to be able to help and support them in an appropriate manner. When settling the children into the setting we should try to remove any anxiety they and their parents may have by welcoming them appropriately. Learning how to say hello in a child??™s home language, using Makaton and gestures to welcome children and a friendly smile will all encourage children to settle into the setting. When planning any SLC activities we must consider how we can best achieve the children??™s individual SLC goals. Different types of activities and tasks should be used for different children and consideration for a child??™s understanding of instructions also needs to be taken into account. Children with SLCN will benefit from smaller group sessions where extra guidance and support can be given. Grouping children of similar SLC proficiency will help extend their confidence and allowing extra time where relevant may prove useful. Effective practise includes maintaining the profile of each child and communicating with other staff and key workers to help the child reach their full potential.