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Supporting children with speech, language and communication needs

Updated: May 16, 2019

The speech, language and communication skills learned by a child in their early years are crucial for when they start school at around five years old. These are the building blocks to enable the child to learn effectively, to understand literacy and numeracy concepts, to read, to socialise with other children and also to help control emotions by having the skill to explain how they are feeling.

In the ‘The Cost to the Nation of Children’s Poor Communication, I Can Talk Issue 2’ journal it states; 

“Effective oral language skills are the building blocks on which subsequent literacy and numeracy development is based. Without solid foundations in language and communication skills, children run the risk of school failure, low self-esteem and poor social skills. Yet up to 80% of children in some areas of the UK are starting school without these vital skills.” 

While this is a shocking statistic, SLCN can also go unnoticed until the child starts school and is sometimes referred to as a hidden difficulty. For teachers, it is so important to be aware of the speech and communication needs of the children in their class, and look out for signs that children may need some extra help.

What are the signs I should look for?

Here are just a few examples of what to be aware of in your classroom which may point to a child that has SCLN:


Are they difficult to understand?

Do they struggle to pronounce words clearly?

Do unfamiliar adults find them difficult to understand?


Do they have a limited vocabulary or use only basic sentence structures?

Do they know enough words to explain what they need or what they are doing?

Do they show signs of frustration when they can’t explain themselves resulting in bad behaviour?


Do they know the rules of conversations?

Do they understand how to take it in turns?

Do they prefer to spend time alone?


Can they follow instructions?

Do they understand what is being said and act accordingly?

Do they lose concentration very quickly when being spoken to?

Do they copy what other children have said?

Applied Psychologies training in SCLN

Applied Psychologies has a dedicated advisory teacher for SCLN, Alexandra Marris, who is specialises in speech, language and communication needs to support children from pre-school into secondary education.

The training involves a twilight or half-day training session aimed at developing teachers understanding of speech, language and communication difficulties and how best to support the children they work with.

Areas covered:

  • Attention and listening

  • Memory and promoting independent learning

  • Questioning

  • Introducing new vocabulary

  • Modelling appropriate language

  • Advice on raising concerns and gaining additional support

The benefits include:

  • A chance to reflect on current practice

  • Lots of practical strategies and tips to use in your classroom

  • Greater understanding of this crucial area of children’s development

If you are interested in attending a training seminar please send us an emailfor our upcoming dates and locations.

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