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Hi everyone. I'm struggling with my cohort of only 23 (half came in below age related expectations in most areas, a third speak EAL, 2 have global delay and one has no speech in her home language and a few mispronounced words in English, and one very difficult behaviour challenge. ALL children are making expected or better progress in all areas) in general but one of the areas I need support with is improving their communication with each other during play.

Currently my day is:


Linked provision (table top activities, generally maths based)


Focus teaching (children working in environment in and out with Teacher extension of play and learning, LSA delivering intevention then joins focus teach) and rolling snack.




Focus Teaching (As before)

Busy fingers


Story and singing


I've been observing (obviously) and it seems that the children with poor language skills aren't interacting with children who have higher language skills and so their time during focus teaching sessions is spent playing alongside children who also have poor language, talking/playing with an adult or playing alone.

My head wants me to put a time in every day where I make children play in certain places with certain other children (no free flow between areas) so that they have to talk to children with different language abilities. (This is how she used to teach reception all day every day before I started)

My thought is that this will result in little or no talk altogether and completely defeat the object!

I'm anxious to see what you think?? or if you think I'm doing something wrong. This is my 5th year in Reception but I have altered the structure of my day, including losing breaktime, and all my LSA wants to do is go back to lots of adult led because apparently it gets the job done faster!

I've been following Alistairs blog for ages and went to his conference just before Christmas, it all makes sense to me and I'm trying hard to provide the best for these children who really need the best I have to give to keep them on the right track.





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Hi Lucie

My LEA run a course purely to develop speaking and listening skills- which unfortunately I've not been on yet called Elkland - which has really specific breakdown and analysis of speech and language development, and the ways to support it- not sure if it is run in other areas?

I went to observe at another setting last year where they had received the training and they had put in place a fantastic small group work for every child in their setting- they had really focused on getting the children to routinely every week do speaking homework with their parents choosing an item to bring in a special bag(it could be anything so long as it fitted into the bag), that then gets put in a special box, each group was summoned by a different instrument (the children loved this!) They sat on special cushions/mats and had the visuals of a mouth and ear as prompts of expectations - each level, even the less able where very focused and all very keen to share. The more able asking questions that they hadn't already received the answer for, using a range of question words, the less able focusing on talking in sentences.

I'm really not doing it justice! But we have tried to copy it this year and a child in our setting who doesn't talk or communicate loves joining in, and sharing and showing his item and is very keen to join a group. This is about the only time that he can cope with a group larger than 2. It has been a great way for all children to celebrate something that they are experts on.

I know this isn't an everyday intervention but it has really improved our cohorts speaking and listening skills.

Hope this is useful :1b




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