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Early years: difficulties understanding what is being said to them

  • Consider how many information carrying words a child can manage when giving instructions – adapt use of language and method, e.g. simple choices, reduce complexity and sentence length.
  • Provide visual prompts alongside language, including key vocabulary, visual timetables, now and next, gestures
  • Labelling equipment with pictures, signs and words
  • Ensure the adult is physically at child’s level
  • Give extra / allow take up time to process what has been said
  • Think about the environment and how to limit any distractions
  • Check you have engaged the child’s attention before talking to them, use the child’s name to attract attention
  • Check that hearing has been tested
  • Plan specific opportunities to teach new vocabulary as well as opportunities to revisit and practice, to develop understanding and use of new words.
  • Consider use of ‘first and then’ or ‘now and next’ supported by visual prompts
  • Meet regularly with parents to discuss how advice and strategies can be continued and strengthened when used  at home
  • Repeat key words and phrases

Links and Resources

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

West Sussex Speech and Language Monitoring Tool

Guidance for using the S&L Monitoring Tool

Practice Strategies

ECAT Guidance for Practitioners – 1

ECAT Guidance for Practitioners – 2

ECAT Guidance for Consultants

Letters and Sounds Phase One

Supporting Children Learning English as an Additional Language

The Communication Trust

Universally Speaking

Graduated Approach Document

I CAN’s Talking Point

National Literacy Trust

West Sussex EYFS Training

Speech and Language Setting Support

Last updated 17 November 2020

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