17/11/2022 - Permalink

Support on hand to help boost language skills for Shropshire’s young children  

Related topics: Children's services / Partner organisations

To improve children’s communication skills Shropshire Council, and partners including NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin and UK Health Security Agency, are offering a wide range of support for practitioners, teachers, carers and parents for children with speech and language needs.

Mirroring the national situation, Shropshire has seen an increase in the number of young children in childcare and school setting who need more speech and language support since the pandemic hit.

The county’s health visitors, educators and speech and language services work together with parents and carers to ensure children with speech, language and communication needs receive the right support to assist meaningful progression in an engaging way.

Early Talk Boost and Talk Boost Key Stage 1, two targeted intervention programmes to enhance young children’s communication, have been launched in settings and schools.

As part of the programme, dedicated staff at schools, nurseries and childcare settings have been offered training and given access to a wealth of resources to help implement the programmes.

Early Talk Boost is a targeted intervention aimed at 3 to 4 year olds with delayed language, helping to boost their language skills and to narrow the gap between them and their peers. The programme aims to accelerate children’s progress in language and communication by an average of 6 months, after a nine-week intervention.

Talk Boost Key Stage 1 is a targeted intervention for children in reception to the end of Year 2. The programme provides a structured programme that boosts children’s progress in language and communication by an average of 9 to 18 months after a 10 week intervention, for older children.

Early Talk is also being rolled out to settings and schools with children aged 0 to 3 years old. The programme is aimed at the early years workforce in partnership with parents to support the communication needs of children from birth to age 3. The Early Talk 0-3 training programme has been independently evaluated as enhancing the learning environment for all children, with a long-term positive impact on staff and practice.

Kirstie Hurst-Knight, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for children and education, said:-

“In the first five years of a child’s life they will learn more about speaking and words than at any other time. Children need good speaking and listening skills to help them learn. The council has therefore invested heavily in providing direct support for those children who need it the most. Working hand in hand with partner organisations such as the NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin and UK Health Security Agency means that there is an integrated and co-ordinated approach which benefits all.

“We have rolled out free training for all of our schools and childcare settings in the Talk Boost and Early Talk Boost intervention tools. Increasing staff confidence in knowing how best to support children in their settings and increasing awareness and understanding of speech and language difficulties has such a positive impact on each child they work.”

A local practitioner who benefited from recent training added:-

“A fabulous pack of resources, expertly targeted to those children needing most support with speech and language, concentration and focus. The training really helped our nursery staff understand the difference we can make. Children have immediately engaged with the resources and we are working with parents to see the difference we are making at home.”

As well as support for practitioners, there are a range of resources and helpful hints and tips specifically for parents and carers.

There are lots of things that you can do to help your child grow and learn. Making the most of a child’s first 1,001 days of their lives is vital in their development.

A wealth of resources, ideas and tips on how parents and carers can support their speech, language and listening skills whilst at home include:-

  • Sharing a book and singing nursery rhymes are a brilliant way to help build speech, language and listening skills – Shropshire Libraries hold FREE regular  Rhyme and Story Times across the county where pre-school children can learn to socialise and join in the rhymes and stories whilst also giving parents and carers the chance to learn new songs and rhymes as well as a social time for them. Search online for your nearest Rhyme Time at Library events | Shropshire Council
  • Shropshire Community Health Trust provide Speech and Language Therapy for children and young people who require specialist speech and language input – their service handbook describes how they work.