Communication is Key
Out and about in nurseries and schools, keeping up to date on social media, informal chats…I’ve lost count of the number of conversations I’ve had, articles I’ve noticed and social media posts I’ve read which relate to children’s speech and language development. It’s a really interesting subject and one which has received some heated coverage in the press recently with headlines varying from “Children with speech and language problems face postcode lottery” to “Children starting school struggling to speak properly”.
There’s undoubtedly concern about how easy or difficult it is for children to access specialist support if they need it, but there’s also agreement that language skills have a significant impact on children’s ability to access the curriculum and on their longer term educational success.
Twitter and Facebook are great for finding out about examples of good practice and I’ve been really encouraged to see examples of training events where speech and language therapists are sharing their knowledge and expertise with education colleagues. Some local authorities are identifying individual staff as “Communication Champions” in their schools and nurseries and many health board SLT services have social media pages with helpful hints and tips for parents.
This collaborative approach is so important - providing practical advice, support and resources for parents to build confidence and raise awareness of the crucial role they play in their child’s language development; ensuring early years staff are well informed and trained to help establish strong communication skills and creating opportunities for education staff and health professionals to work together to generate the best possible outcomes for children.
There are lots of websites with information about speech and language development, advice if you’ve got concerns or ideas for activities to help develop young children’s communication skills. Here are a few of my favourites:
Great information for parents/carers and practitioners to help children develop speech, language and communication skills including a really helpful Progress Checker.
Catherine Jackson is a speech and language therapist with over 20 years’ experience. She has developed three separate assessment apps for parents, early years practitioners and speech and language therapists. Her website also includes helpful video clips and blog posts.
I CAN is a charity raising awareness of the importance of children’s communication and the impact of communication difficulties. It provides training, advice and resources and its mission is that no child should be left out or left behind because of a difficulty speaking or understanding.
Lots of simple ideas to encourage baby/parent interactions.
Babies and young children love the patterns and rhythms of songs and rhymes and this website has a fantastic selection for parents and children to share.