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I need some advice on how to prepare for a child who may be joining our group after christmas.This child is 3.2 years has no speech and is still in nappies.The parents have already secured funding for a 1:1 worker and are not starting the child with us until after christmas due to a house move.In fact they are looking at a couple of settings, but i think we may be the one they ultimately choose because we are smaller and have a more "homely" feel.Apparantly, this child becomes quite frustrated due to the lack of speech and therefore the difficulties of being understood, though is not aggressive.I asked if they use Pecs cards with the child and apparantly, they are just starting those, but the child does have some Makaton signing in use, which the current group is using with the whole group, for such things a nursery rhymes etc.Their is a suggestion, which is still being investigated, that this child may also be in the autistic spectrum, but this may ultimately prove not to be the case.

So, what can i do to best help this child?? I can start to investigate staffing, though not actuallly offer a job as we still don't know for sure that the child is coming, but how to advertise and what extra qualities do we look for in staff?We can look at Makaton and prepare some pecs cards of our own, but what else??I want this child and family to be confident and secure in the knowledge that we are going to do our very best for them, so any practical advice/tips would be very welcome! Thankyou

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Firstly, I just want to say how great it is that you are looking into this, as I know it must be daunting when you're first faced with something different to the norm as it were.

I'm just in my 2nd year in a special school for kids with severe or profound and multiple learning difficulties and a lot of my class are at a developmental level of below 3 years so I guess some of the stuff we do will be appropriate for this little one.


How about getting a copy of the Makaton Nursery Rhymes video, its on amazon and ebay and various other places. Dave Benson Phillips presents it, and its great, my class love it.


There's also a great programme called Something Special, made by the BBC which uses Makaton signing. At the moment there are some new episodes being aired every Saturday and Sunday at 9am and repeated at 3pm. You can now get the 1st series on DVD and video although they are quite expensive.

Makaton is a great skill for all the kids and staff to learn, so its great that you want to look into this.

If he/she does come to you I would suggest buying a copy of boardmaker or maybe linking with your local SEN school to see if they will help you with signs/symbols etc. It's a great programme that produces clear symbols that you could put in each place around the room as well as using in exchange for snacks/drinks etc. I presume that he/she will have some speech therapy input (the level of which pretty much depends on the LEA you're in), try and get in contact with them for advice of what to do with them.

Again, as I mentioned with the boardmaker, why not speak to the local SEN school and ask for advice. I think that would be a great port of call and I know that at our school, especially in the nursery the teacher gets calls from all sorts of different nursery settings asking for help and she's only too happy to oblige.

Hope that helps some,



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Hi we had a similar child start at school when he was a bit older (almost 5), but sounds similar.

The main things we did to prepare for this child coming in to school were:


We made a photo book of the school, the classroom, TAs, Teacher, places he would put things eg drink, lunchbox etc. The parents looked at this regularly with the child through the summer holidays and added photos of his things he would bring to school eg bag, drink etc.


I found photos rather than pecs were more effective and we made a visual timetable using photos. We also took photos of everything in the classroom which were used for choosing, decision making etc.


I would agree with all Nichola has said, especially the makaton video and Boardmaker. There is a CDRom called 'Speaking for Myself' which has Nursery Rhymes etc on it, and uses simple computer skills - I pesonally don't like it but there are others who say its fantastic. I love the Pod CDRom and all kids love it especially those with SEN - very simple but very effective.


In terms of staff, I would look at people who have previous S+L/SEN expeience, those who are kind and sensitive to the childs needs but will be firm enough when needed, and someone who is able to multi-task. Basically all the qualities you would look for in someone who was applying for any childcare post.


Just out of interest the child we had is now in Year 2 and is doing fntastically well, he is able to speak simple sentences, can use the toilet, is loved by everyone and has a terrific sense of humour.



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we find Children coming into a group already identified usually have a support team already in place, who are there to help us with the children. If they are starting to use pecs at home this is probably the case. Could be worth asking parents if they would be willing for you to contact them and ask for contact details, this will ensure continuity.


If using pecs or boardmaker please ensure the same pictures are being used in all places and not 2 different ones as Makaton has its own pictures for pecs which is different to boardmaker.

As a start we always find photographs work well as suggested by Jo1.


we are currently in discussion over this one with a child as mum is being introduced to boardmaker we used photographs as we were the first step in pecs for the child and they were clearer and relevant to the setting but now need to use symbols, and the sure start unit she attends 1 day uses makaton! too much for a child with communication difficulties so a meeting has been arranged with all parties to come to an agreement in our case theis is sure start/ springboard, speach therapy, portage, and all staff working with her at our setting. we all work with the child and have funding for 1:1 which we supply using our current staff. At other times we have had staff supplied by our local Springboard unit come in and support the child.


we get support from a portage worker too who goes into the home and comes to us to help keep continuity. she supplies us with the pictures for boardmaker a phone call and she puts the ones we want in the post next day, and sure start unit for makaton pictures and support (really must sort this out !!)


we too use something special and the dave benson phillips video, which I noticed somewhere is due out on DVD.



Edited by Inge
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Have you met the child yet?

I had a child in my class last year who came in with a statement (and a nightmare report from the private day nursery he attended) and so we prepared lots of visual timetables pictures (he's in the AS) etc only to find he hated them and destroyed them/hid them/ put them in the bin at every opportunity. By the time of his review everyone especially his parents were amazed at the change in him.

Guess what Im trying to say is be prepared but go with the individual child.

Edited by Marion
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yes I have met him but only as parents came for a look around and he was thrilled by our rocking horse and wanted to play with that and then dad took him off to play while mum spoke to me, so I didn't get much of a picture, but I take your point.........need to talk more to parents and previous setting I guess, if he's coming to us.

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My 22 year old daughter has severe learning difficulties and her developmental age is 2 1/2 she uses symbols to communticate and these work great for us too because we are able to use them to let her know whats coming next in daily routines. Also these help her to be independent with daily tasks like shopping. She also loves the makaton nursery rhyme video. Picture cards work well too but only ones with real photographs as she seems to be able to relate to these easier xjojomx

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  • 3 weeks later...

Forum virgin so hope this works!


I agree that most children usually have a wave of support behind them when entering the setting. Certainly get as much info from parents as possible but there should be an area SENCO employed by LEA to support you on this. We have one and she's fab! full of ideas, useful tips and training and more importantly supporting the staff team, child and parents making sure everyone has all the knowledge they need!


If you have a childrens centre near by they will have a Pedagogue (qual teacher) who may also act as SENCO to settings in the catchment area - get in touch, I'm sure they will be more than happy to help


Good luck



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