Early years: Difficulties in being understood and with what they want to say

Suggested strategies and links.

Strategies and approaches:

  • Use gestures and signs.
  • Support verbal explanations using pictures and object of reference.
  • Model language – reflect back correct speech rather than correcting.
  • Repeat what the child has said and add one word.
  • Label accessible equipment with photos and pictures.
  • Observe child’s preferred ways to communicate which may include non-verbal gestures and body language.
  • Encourage children to work in pairs and small groups, giving opportunities to interact with children who can provide good language models.
  • In reception classes, organise small group or individual language sessions – ensure adults have phonological awareness and understand the impact that processing difficulties may have on phonics acquisition, and differentiate phonics teaching accordingly. For younger children, plan specific language activities to support children’s listening and attention skills as well as their language acquisition.
  • Allow time for children to process and respond (10 second rule).
  • Introduce a variety of language through rhymes and songs.
  • Ensure that all attempts to speak are acknowledged and valued.
  • Provide an additional method of communicating e.g. Makaton, visual signs, visual aids, aided language boards to support verbal communication.
  • If recommended by a specialist, and provided with training, use a symbol communication (e.g.  PECS).
  • Develop ways of communicating with families with English as an Additional Language (EAL). Meet regularly with parent carers to establish communication levels at home and share suitable advice and strategies


IDP for children with Speech, Language and Communication Needs

EYFS Inclusion Development Programme (IDP): Speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) e-learning course

IDP for children with social communication needs

Inclusion Development Programme (IDP) – Supporting children on the autism spectrum in the Early Years

Guidance for using the S&L Monitoring Tool

Practice Strategies

Letters and Sounds Phase One

The Communication Trust

Universally Speaking