How can I Support a Child in my Setting?

Step One: Understanding the needs of all children

To support children’s speech, language and communication development, we first need to understand their needs. Consider how you monitor the SLC needs of all the children you work with – are you confident that early signs of any difficulties can be spotted in your setting or service?

Some things to consider:

  • Do all the staff in your team have the appropriate level of knowledge about SLC development and how to recognise potential needs?
  • What tools do you use to support the identification of possible SLC needs? Are these working well?

Step Two: Check out any concerns

If you have any concerns that a child’s SLC is not developing as he/she should be, you need to check it out. Take time to observe the child more closely, discuss with other colleagues/professionals, and ensure you involve parents. It’s vital to know how the child is doing in different environments so discussions with both settings and parents is important.

Some things to consider:

  • Do you have a clear picture of how the child’s SLC is developing, both at home and in nursery/school/other environments?
  • Can you identify which areas of SLC the child seems to be struggling with?
  • Can you speak to the Language Lead in your setting/team for more information and advice?
  • Take a look at some useful websites and documents to guide you in what to look for

Step Three: Take early action!

If you still have concerns, you need to take action!  Unless your concerns are very significant, you will probably want to try to put some support in place before seeking external professional input.  Your first job is to involve parents in discussions and make sure they feel supported to help their child. Think about what you can offer in your setting/service that might help the child’s development and bridge the gap you have identified.

Some things to consider:

  • Do staff in your team have the appropriate knowledge and confidence in providing a positive communication environment? Link to training page
  • Is there support available in the community – libraries, toddler groups, etc?
  • Do parents need support to develop a more positive home learning environment?
  • What additional support is available in nursery/school?  Consider small group support, create a Target Learning Plan, would the child benefit from interventions such as Early Talk Boost?
  • How will you monitor this and keep track of how the child is progressing?
  • How will you continue to share information with others involved with the child (nursery/school/parents/health visitors etc)
  • Would some early advice from SLT be helpful at this point? Consider a telephone advice appointment link to main SLT website if appropriate
  • If your initial concerns are significant and you feel confident that the child is likely to need specialist support going forwards, then it may be appropriate to consider a referral to SLT for assessment.

Step Four: Seek further support

If following the support you have provided, the child is still struggling, then it may be necessary to seek further support from specialist services. This may be speech and language therapy, specialist teachers, or others as appropriate.

It’s important to provide as much information as you can at the time of referral to ensure the child is signposted to the appropriate services.