Top Strategies to Boost Children's Speech & Language Skills
Updated: Aug 15
You can establish effective management of speech and language needs in your classroom or setting by using strategies. This contributes to quality teaching and school improvement by ensuring that staff are mindful of the range of needs the pupils may have and simple ways to support them.
Adults in education and childcare settings can use a variety of strategies to help children who are late talkers, have language delay, difficulties processing and understanding language, struggles with memory and repetition skills, learning vocabulary and recalling words, children with unclear speech or phonics difficulties, pupils who stammer and children who have difficulties with their social skills.
Here are my top strategies that you can use in your classroom or setting this week.
Waiting is the most important strategy you can use with children of all ages. WAIT for a few moments after you’ve spoken for them to process your words, gestures and meaning. Then wait EVEN LONGER for them to work out whether they want to reply and if they do, they need some MORE TIME to think of the words they want to use in their reply. There's a lot of thinking their brains need to do when communicating and the extra time really helps. My TOP TIP: count to 5 after you've asked them a question (you may need to count quite slowly 😉)
This involves saying a child's words or sentences back to them, emphasising or exaggerating their target sounds or incorrect grammar. This helps development of grammar, speech sound awareness, vocabulary growth and building up the use of longer sentences. It's absolutely ok to do this 👌💛. It's not negatively highlighting a child's difficulties or challenges. Instead, it is helping by showing them the correct way to talk or say their words. This will help them to copy and learn. ➡ Example: Child: "I buyed it in the tops" Adult: "You BOUGHT it in the SHops, did you? That's super!"
In this example the adult is modelling the irregular past tense of 'buy' as well as the 'SH' sound for shops.
When you're talking to a child or pupil, make sure you get their attention. It's important for them to look at you so that they can absorb all of the non-verbal cues you’re communicating on top of your speech. These include pointing and gesturing, body language and facial expression. Don't force eye contact if it makes them uncomfortable, they can look at your mouth or eyebrows instead. Use your knowledge of the child you are communicating with to adapt this strategy to their needs.
CHUNKING involves reducing down the amount of words you say to a child at a time. It’s really hard for little brains to process all of the words in some of the instructions we give to them. Instead of "put your pens in the pots, your books in your tray and line up by the door", split your commands into smaller chunks and deliver them one at a time (as required by the child): 1. put your pen in the pot 2. put your book in the tray 3. line up by the door It does take more effort for us adults to chunk instructions for children but it supports their comprehension and processing skills whilst boosting their self-esteem when they complete them and are praised. Give it a go 😉
There are plenty of easy-to-do strategies like these in all of my online courses. They are ideal to boost quality teaching and learning for different key stages and age groups.
The courses cover: