Play and Interaction
Play is more than just fun for our children, it is how they learn about the world, about other people and language. There are stages that children tend to go through for play and interaction, although all children are different. If you think your child is having difficulty with these areas take a look at some of our top tips
Attention and Listening Skills
Attention and listening is being able to listen and focus on activities, people and language. It includes lots of different skills and can be hard for children to learn! We need good attention and listening to help with our social skills, language development and learning. Children and young people can find it difficult to attend for lots of reasons, often changing the environment and how people help can make all the difference. Please see our helpful handouts below for supporting attention and listening skills. Click here for further resources on our Occupational Therapy resource page
First steps in language development
We want all babies and young children to have lots of opportunities to develop strong language skills. Language learning starts from very early on and is learnt within early interactions with families. Good language skills are crucial for learning and building friendships. Please see below for great ideas for supporting early language development.
Supporting understanding of language
There is a lot to understanding language. Children and young people need to understand words, sentences, questions, long instructions and paragraphs. They also need to be able to understand higher level language such as idioms, metaphor, inference and humour. Children and young people may have strengths and needs in different areas. There is a lot that can be done to support understanding of language.
Using visuals: Visual supports are crucial for supporting children with communication difficulties. Visual supports stay put (unlike words) which means a child can keep referring to the visual support when the spoken word has gone. They help us to back up the spoken word and should always be used alongside the spoken word. When we talk about visual support we mean anything the child can see e.g. pictures, photos, words, objects, gestures, sign language, colours.
Language Friendly classrooms: All children including those with speech, language and communication needs will benefit from a “language friendly classroom.” Teachers and those working with children can adapt their own language skills and classroom environments to make it easier for children to understand classroom-based learning and access to the curriculum.
Supporting talking and communicating
We communicate in lots of different ways. Children and young people might need help to develop their talking like using new words, longer sentences and conversations.
Some children may find it difficult to talk about something that has happened to them or create their own stories. Narrative skills or Story telling are an important part of our communication. Some children may find it difficult to build their own narratives which can have an impact on their ability to share experiences. For the listener, sentences may sound incomplete and the story is hard to follow.
A child’s vocabulary is the words that they know and use in their communication. A well-developed vocabulary gives children a good foundation to build on all aspects of their future communication and learning in school. For some children, their vocabulary may be limited or they may have difficulties finding the words they need when communicating.
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)
Anything that we do to support or replace verbal speech is AAC. This might include signing, using pictures and symbols or communication devices. Anyone can use AAC and anyone can support AAC ! Click the links below for advice around implementing AAC and downloadable resources.
Clear Speech and Speech sounds
Speech sounds are the sounds that we use in words. If a child has difficulty with their speech sounds, their speech can be difficult to understand.
It is normal for young children to say sounds incorrectly however as they learn to talk, their sound system gradually develops.
If speech sound difficulties persist, the child may need support from a Speech and Language Therapist.
We know children develop differently however some speech sounds tend to develop earlier than others. See below for resources to support speech sounds and a poster which shows the average age at which speech sounds develop.