Working from home wellness top tips (guest post)

Sorcha Gavin is a Senior Consultant and Wellness Co-ordinator for Axcis Education. In this blog, she shares her top tips for staying sane when working from home during this unprecedented time. Whether you’re spending time helping with distance learning or doing planning and preparation work ready for when schools go back – her tips are sure to be helpful.

Sorcha Gavin

Try to wake up at the same time everyday

The dream of being able to get up when you want can be short lived if you don’t do it with intention!  … aim to get up around the same time every day, this helps stabilise your internal clock and improve your sleep and mood overall. You’ll feel more refreshed, less tired and more able to concentrate for longer periods of time.

Don’t be in a rush, give yourself plenty of time

Plan to have around an hour or preferably longer to make sure you’re not in a rush or stressed out before you start your day . Your mind needs sufficient time to wake up before doing any work. Try a meditation or different breathing techniques to start your day proper. (Really good app which I swear by – over 22,000 meditations for any area in your life..). It’s also a good idea to get washed and dressed as usual to get yourself into a work mindset for the day.

Take time to eat a proper breakfast

It’s probably the most important part of any daily routine! Working on an empty stomach is going to reduce your ability to concentrate and leave you with lower energy levels in the morning. You should really try to eat something filling and healthy to make the most out of breakfast. A balanced meal is really the best idea. You’ll find yourself with more energy, improved concentration and a better mood.

Put down the phone! (Unless essential)

It’s all too easy to pick up your phone or laptop as soon as you wake up and end up being glued to the screen for the rest of the day. A lot of us can’t avoid using a screen for work, so it’s worth having a break in the morning. Try…………. to not check your emails as soon as you get up, avoid social media/BBC News  and give your brain a more relaxed start to the day. Experts say that checking your phone first thing “frames the experience of ‘waking up in the morning’ around a menu of ‘all the things I’ve missed since yesterday. Too much screen time is bad for your eyesight and mind- blue light glasses may prove helpful…

Do something physical

Physical exercise is good for both your mind and body. Perhaps it could be some yoga or maybe just a small walk. You’ll feel more awake and both physically and mentally alert. Working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic also means that you might not leave the house for extended periods of time, so getting outside and moving is important.(obviously still in line with social distancing)

Set goals for the rest of your day

When you sit down at your desk, take some time to plan out your day. You can set some goals as to what you need to do and when. It’s usually a good idea to start this before checking your emails, as these can distract you from major tasks and interrupt your schedule.

Now more than ever we find ourselves isolated and separate from people and our communities- it’s so important to stay connected, pick up the phone, speak to friends and family..

Useful apps for staying connected…

Download zoom for video chats,

House Party app which allows you to  video group chat ….

Not feeling the above? Why not write a letter, join a volunteer group or learn a new skill? YouTube is a gold mine of tutorials in a vast range of activities and crafts

A wise man recently told me that “ Time is now our most Valuable asset – We need to use it wisely

Stay Safe <3

Sorcha Gavin, find me on Instagram @sorchaslanuholistics

Are you seeking SEND work or staff during this unprecedented time?

Many schools are still open and supporting SEND and Key Worker children – so if you’re looking for a SEND teaching or support job in England or Wales, why not register with Axcis, the SEND recruitment specialists? Or perhaps you need to recruit staff for your school or provision? If so, why not take a look at the Axcis Website, or get in touch today to find out how we can help?

Axcis Candidates: We are still finding you work!

Worried? Scared? Confused? Try not to stress – At Axcis, we are here to support you through this difficult time

As leaders in SEND, lots of the schools and residential care settings we work with are open and in need of help with their staffing. We still have roles for teachers, teaching assistants, care workers and other support staff.

What can you do to help?

  • If you currently have work booked with Axcis, be flexible and support your setting in any way that you can – make yourself indispensable and you’re likely to be kept working!
  • If you do not currently have work booked, update your supply days diary so we know what days you can work as needs arise. This way you will have the best chance of being contacted for work.

You may also find our coronavirus FAQ page about the current situation helpful in answering any other questions you have.

Together we will get through this, and your support during this difficult time is hugely appreciated.

Please keep an eye on our website and social media pages which we will endeavour to keep updated as the situation develops

Are you seeking SEND work or staff during the coronavirus pandemic?

If you’re looking for a SEND teaching or support job in England or Wales, why not register with Axcis, the SEND recruitment specialists? Or perhaps you need to recruit staff for your school or provision? If so, why not take a look at the Axcis Website, or get in touch today to find out how we can help?

Coronavirus FAQ’s for supply staff

We have put together these FAQ’s to help you during these uncertain times

Should a supply teacher or support staff member still work if they are fit and able while schools are open?

Yes. Unless you, or a member of your household either has symptoms of the virus, or is in an “at risk” group, you should continue to work as directed by your school/Axcis consultant. Although many schools will be closed, some will still be operating to support children of key workers or those with EHCP’s – so do check to be sure if you are required or not.

Will supply staff still get paid when the school I’m working at has closed due to Coronavirus/Covid19?

If you have worked as a supply teacher or support staff, you will get paid as normal once your work has been confirmed with the school via a timesheet. Sadly, there is no contractual requirement for a school or hirer to pay supply teachers for advanced bookings. Nonetheless, some schools are agreeing to pay long-term supply staff during closures, and your Axcis consultant will be doing their very best to ensure that they secure payment for as many candidates as they possibly can. In addition to this, there is also a petition to the government to support supply staff during this difficult time. If you’d like to sign this, you can do so here:

Will I receive sick pay should I become ill with Coronavirus/Covid-19?

As with any illness, Axcis, or an umbrella company you are employed by will pay statutory sick pay to agency workers by completing form SC2, if you qualify and based on current government guidelines. However, there may be additional support offered by the government in this rapidly evolving situation, so if unsure, it’s best to refer to the latest guidance being offered and to consult with your chosen umbrella company.

What do I do if I am told I have been working at a school with a confirmed case of Coronavirus?

The virus is now fairly widespread across the UK and as such you should follow the guidance being offered by the government. This is currently to maintain social distancing, and to self-isolate if you or a family member shows symptoms. Whether others at your school or provision has shown symptoms is currently not a factor unless you become symptomatic yourself.

Where can I get accurate advice about schools and Coronavirus/Covid-19

Please keep up to date on the government website for educational settings

Is it possible to get supply work after schools close?

Yes – we will respond to the needs of our client schools as and when they stay open and require additional teaching or support staff. It is possible that teachers may be required for distance learning needs as well – we will update our jobs pages to reflect any current needs as they develop.

Are you seeking SEND staff or work?

If you’re looking for a SEND teaching or support job in England or Wales, either now or for September, why not register with Axcis, the SEND recruitment specialists? Or perhaps you need to recruit staff for your school or provision? If so, why not take a look at the Axcis Website, or get in touch today to find out how we can help?

Using symbols to reinforce learning in the home environment (guest post)

This guest post is kindly provided by Sarah Lachlann-Dean. She is a chartered teacher and communication lead at Woodlands High school in Cardiff. In this article, Sarah explores the value of using a range of communication tools, and has also provided us with a fantastic visual communication book which has been made available for families to download and use completely free of charge.

Widget Software have kindly given their permission for personal use of Sarah’s excellent resource book (provided their copyright information is not removed). The book can be downloaded here

At the moment I am a stay at home Mum with a new baby, and temporarily home schooling my older daughter due to the COVID-19 outbreak. I am so lucky to know the curriculum, where she is in relation to it and be able to get on with introducing the next steps. If I has suddenly found myself responsible for her health or something without professional support I would have been at a loss, and reliant on google, so I wanted to share something I find very useful in my own setting, a special needs classroom, working with learners with significant communication difficulties.

I use a total communication approach, which in simple terms means using everything to give learners maximum opportunity to communicate. I use clear speech, PECS, sign, photographs, real objects and symbols every day. One of the things my pupils gravitate towards most are the simple symbols, and they can be an effective tool for receptive as sell as expressive communication.

When I left my last school to go on maternity leave, I gave all the children a ‘home’ communication book, with the symbols they may need to ask for days out, identify rooms in the house, help with cooking etc. It also had symbols such as colours, numbers and vocabulary we were working on in school like big and small.

I use symbols such a lot, I subscribe to, as it is so much faster and means all my work is stored remotely. The team at widgit have very kindly given me permission to share this resource for free with parents in the same situation as me, educating at home for the first time.

Download the visual communication book – click here

I hope you find it useful, and here are some ideas for how I would use it.

  1. Core vocab: A simple page which gives pupils opportunity to ask for things lime drinks, toilet etc. I know, as a parent you just know what they need, but this is all about supporting them to tell you using their ‘voice’ because if they can tell you they are well on their way to telling other people what they want and need and increasing control of the world around them.
  2. Places: Ok, so some of these places are currently no-go, but you may be living with a child who goes to the cinema every week at the same time with a personal assistant and its suddenly cancelled. They may be able to use the symbol to ask if they can go, and we can redirect them to the living room for TV film, not the same, no, but could potentially save some distress.
  3. Hobbies and Activities: Some of the most used and loved symbols in class. Often it is ‘work first then choosing’ and pupils can decide what they would like to do next. Again, your child might be able to access everything they need, but it may be worth limiting that free access to support them to learn to request. Its all about promoting independence and being able to ask for something you want or need which you can’t see is fundamental to this.
  4. Body: Important for learners to be able to tell people if they are ill or in pain, or even if they are just uncomfortable. Parts of the body is a key bank of vocabulary. They may point to a body part and you can show on the page and say the word clearly. After all there are some parts of the body we would rather not be pointing at to communicate, as my daughter demonstrated last week when she injured her middle finger.
  5. People and Animals: Great for identifying people and animals in books, stories and songs, and developing ‘I see’ sentences in pictures and out on walks.
  6. Actions: Can be used to request, or comment. This page is particularly useful for learners needing to move beyond using one word, so rather than using ‘boy’, they may be able to extend to ‘boy dancing’ or ‘duck’ to ‘duck swimming’ etc.
  7. Cooking: A useful page if your child is a budding chef, or just needs to work on independent living skills. A mixture of cooking related vocab including actions as well as equipment, to support understanding of instructions.
  8. Colours and pattern: Good for teaching patterns and sequencing in maths but also good for getting creative with some arts and crafts and talking about what you are doing. Also good for working on properties, e.g. ‘red triangle’, ‘green square’
  9. Number: This is actually number and mathematical concepts, these parts of language are so tricky for our learners, especially as they are so subjective. Is it big? In comparison to a button yes, in comparison to a bus, not really. The only way to understand how these woks in to keep using them in lots of different contexts, playing with sand, water, cooking, painting, in fact most activities!
  10. Textures: Can be used in crafts, reading sensory books or even to request sensory activities.
  11. Food- Lots of Foods: Suitable for requesting, cooking activities, and un normal circumstances shopping. If your child is an emergent writer these are also useful for copying writing to make a shopping list.
  12. Personal care: Can be kept in the book or laminated and put on the wall in the bathroom, and the kitchen, everywhere at the moment. I thought twice about including this, as I knew families would have their own ways of supporting hygiene, but now I’m glad I did.
  13. Clothes: Vocabulary building, can be used for real clothes or in books, ‘what is she wearing?’ seems strange buta good way to develop the vocabulary or extend sentences. ‘girl’ – ‘girl wellies’- ‘girl red wellies’- ‘girl red spotty wellies’ etc.
  14. Feelings- Most pupils I have taught will just say happy if you ask how they are, this vocabulary is just so difficult, especially for children and young people on the autistic spectrum who also have learning difficulties. I recommend using these to describe what is happening in books first and modelling before using it to ask questions.
  15. Stories: Most importantly just enjoy and if you need a break all these stories have retellings on YouTube so you can have a cup of tea!

Sarah Lachlann-Dean

Sarah’s Twitter handle is @SarahLachlann should you wish to get in touch to discuss anything SEND with her, or thank her for this wonderful resource.

Are you seeking SEND work or staff?

If you’re looking for a SEND teaching or support job in England or Wales, why not register with Axcis, the SEND recruitment specialists? Or perhaps you need to recruit staff for your school or provision? If so, why not take a look at the Axcis Website, or get in touch today to find out how we can help?

Axcis candidates: How to complete your online registration

Have you recently registered for work with Axcis online and have received an email asking you to complete your details? Or perhaps you’re looking to register with us and want to find out how it works. Find the answers to these queries here.

Registering with Axcis

Registering with Axcis online is a simple process that shouldn’t take more than about 10 minutes. All you need to do is visit our website and fill in the required fields. The more information you can provide, the easier it will be for our team to match your details to suitable job roles.

Completing your referee details

Once you have registered online, you will receive an email asking you to fill in your referee details, along with any other incomplete details from the online process. The screen shots below will help you to do this if you are unsure.

What an incomplete registration looks like

The below image shows what you will see when you log in if your registration is incomplete. The menu on the left of the screen will have some red fields. These are the ones you will need to select and complete.

What a complete registration looks like

Once all the required fields are complete, all items on the left menu will have green ticks next to them – as in the screen shot below.

Importance of including a CV

It really helps us to help you if you ensure that a CV is uploaded as part of your registration process. This will save us asking you a lot of questions, and will help to direct us in terms of what suitable placements we may be able to offer you. If you need help to put a CV together, we have a template you can use on our useful downloads page.

Having problems? Get in touch

If you have followed the steps outlined in this article and are having any problems with your registration, or if you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with your local office for support.

Refer a friend to Axcis and earn up to £250

Did you know that we run a generous referral scheme here at Axcis? If you have any friends or family members seeking work, refer them to Axcis and you could earn up to £250 in shopping vouchers as a thank-you. Find out more about this scheme here.

School staff: Use your time in isolation to further your SEND knowledge – home learning ideas from Axcis and our partners

Is your school closed or set to close due to the coronavirus outbreak? Are you wondering how you’ll stay sane if required to stay at home for a number of weeks? Why not use your time to further your own professional knowledge? Axcis has lots of SEND resources and e-learning suggestions for you to try…

Axcis SEND resources

Did you know that the Axcis blog has a huge range of SEND resources for you to browse through? From guest articles from specialists in the sector, to seasonal resources, SEND information, worksheets and classroom materials and much more? To access these resources, you can either go to our blog pages and select the SEND resources category – that will bring all relevant blogs up in date order.

Autism training

Brush up on your autism knowledge while stuck at home

Although many of our CPD courses are held in person, we do also offer some online options via our partners at the National Autistic Society.. these courses are detailed below:

Autism webinars – FREE!

As part of our relationship with the National Autistic Society, we sponsored a series of webinars which are available for you to watch completely free of charge – these sessions will help to develop your knowledge and understanding of autism, and help to further your classroom practice in this area.

Ask autism modules – huge discount

Another thing we sponsor as part of our partnership with the National Autistic Society is their “Ask Autism” online modules. These modules are offered to Axcis readers at a hugely discounted rate. Find out more about them here.

Focus on SEND training

Another fantastic organisation we sponsor is nasen (the National Association for Special Educational Needs). If you are not already a member of nasen and work in the field of SEND, then we would urge you to join up! Bronze membership is FREE and will give you access to 9 hours of their online “Focus on SEND” training. Alternatively you can opt for silver or bronze membership which will give you further training options and benefits.

SEND Gateway

Axcis are very proud to be associated with nasen and their SEND Gateway

Another thing you’ll have access to if you join up with nasen is their “SEND Gateway“. This is a “one-stop-shop for all things SEND”. You’ll find articles, resources, courses and lots more – so use any free time you have to take a look and explore what they have on offer – there is bound to be something of interest that will help further your professional understanding and help with your classroom practice.

Sky Badger school awards

Sky Badger is a smaller charity who we have chosen to support throughout 2020. Did you know about this great charity or the host of wonderful lesson plans and resources they have available on their website? Now is a great time to browse what they have available and plan for some interesting sessions to run at home or when schools go back. Or perhaps you are a SEND professional who can use their time at home to help contribute to this fantastic database?

Do you have any training or resources to share?

During this difficult time, we all need to support each other. If you know of any useful online courses or resources that could benefit your peers in the SEND sector, why not tell us about them in the comments below?

Are you seeking SEND work or staff?

If you’re looking for a SEND teaching or support job in England or Wales, why not register with Axcis, the SEND recruitment specialists? Or perhaps you need to recruit staff for your school or provision? If so, why not take a look at the Axcis Website, or get in touch today to find out how we can help?

Fighting Bullies in your PJ’s (Guest Post)

Do you need lesson plans to promote understanding of SEND? Or perhaps you can contribute one to help others? That’s what this guest post from the charity Sky Badger is all about – read on to find out more.

Have you ever made up a game or lesson about disability that you know made a difference? I bet you have. Or has there been a time when there was a new closeness in your class that your ideas made happen? Even a seed of an idea can make a difference. We can help you bring it to life and give you full credit too. We need your help to teach primary school aged children all over the UK about special needs, disabilities, and allergies…and you don’t even need to change out of your PJ’s!

But let’s start at the beginning.

A few years ago, our little charity Sky Badger, was doing some research into bullying of SEN children. We discovered that Primary school pupils with special educational needs are twice as likely as other children to suffer from persistent bullying. At age 7, 12% of children with special needs and 11% of those with a statement said they were bullied ‘all of the time’ by other pupils. We don’t think that’s OK. That’s why we created the Sky Badger School Awards.

The Sky Badger School Awards is a downloadable disability awareness programme for Primary Schools and community groups in the UK and is totally free. It uses games and lesson plans to develop empathy and understanding rather than sympathy for disabled children changing the way children think about disability.

The idea is to help children understand that ‘disability is not inability’ and that differences can be celebrated not feared. We started using cutting edge behavioural change psychology in a series of fun lesson plans and games, all linked to the National Curriculum. You can find out more about behavioural change here. It really is very cool indeed and working with Rory Sutherland from Ogilvy was quite an inspiration.

Our school award’s programme not only works to reduce bullying and increase peer group cohesion, it also helps Sky Badger reach disabled children, their families, teachers and support workers. That way, even more children can find help through Sky Badger’s information services.

Why we need your help

The statistics are worrying;

 “Primary school pupils with special educational needs are twice as likely as other children to suffer from persistent bullying. At age 7, 12% of children with special needs and 11% of those with a statement said they were bullied ‘all of the time’ by other pupils, compared to just 6% of their non-disabled peers.” Institute of Education

“34% of children on the autism spectrum say that the worst thing about being at school is being picked on.” The National Autistic Society

Disability Rights UK (DR UK), found that most of the young people with SEND described being bullied and socially excluded at school, and said their group of school friends was small or non-existent.

“There are approximately 351,000 children aged 0-17 with a learning disability in the UK.” Mencap

Here’s a video made by the University of Warwick about SEND bullying:

In 2018/9, 19,773 Sky Badger’s lesson plans and games were downloaded for use, that’s an annual increase of 55%. With groups ranging from 10-30 children, we can conservatively extrapolate that number of lesson plans and games to have reached a minimum of 180,000 children. With your help, we aim to grow this by 35% to over 24,000 downloads reaching lots of new teachers and community group leaders in the next year.

Vikings, Moon Villages and Secret Codes

Our lesson plans and games have everything from bloodthirsty disabled Viking, to children designing accessible Moon Villages to a code-cracking Braille game.

What would you want to add? Find out what we’ve done so far here:

What do teachers say about the school awards?

A quote from a teacher using a Sky Badger lesson plans:

“The children worked in 3 groups to find out about dyslexia, ADHD and epilepsy…The children not only demonstrated understanding of each condition but also showed great sensitivity to the needs of their chosen child, often focusing on the attitudes of teachers and other children…The main point that the children took away from the lesson was we need to be sensitive to the fact that everyone can have additional needs even if we can’t see them.” Class of 20 children aged 8-9.

What we need you to do

Will you help us teach primary school children all over the UK about special needs, disabilities, and allergies? Can you design one exciting lesson plan for us? All Sky Badger volunteers and staff work remotely, so you can work in a coffee shop, a school, or on your sofa in your PJs.

Please send us your ideas to  or find us on Facebook for a chat!

Your ideas need to…

  • Be fun and can include games, sports, art, DT, creative writing and competitions to develop a greater understanding of disability and disabled children.
  • You can design class work, a project, a workshop, an experiment or a performance.
  • You can even have a rough idea and we can work together to grow it.
  • Be in-line with the National Curriculum.

We really can’t wait to hear from you.

What else you can do

If you’re too busy but still want to get involved please…

Are you seeking SEND work or staff?

If you’re looking for a SEND teaching or support job in England or Wales, why not register with Axcis, the SEND recruitment specialists? Or perhaps you need to recruit staff for your school or provision? If so, why not take a look at the Axcis Website, or get in touch today to find out how we can help?

Axcis Candidates: How to update your day to day supply availability online

If you are registered with Axcis and have met one of our consultants face-to-face, you will have access to an online availability diary. Don’t forget to keep this up to date so we know when to call you for work. Here’s a reminder of how it works.

1. Log into the Axcis Website

You should have a username and password which allows you to log into the Axcis website (if you have forgotten your password, you can request a new one online which will be emailed to you).

2. Click on “supply days”

Once you are logged in, you should see in the left hand menu that you have access to a “supply days” button. Click on this…

3. Select the days you are available for work

You should now see a screen as shown below. Simply click on the days you are available for work to turn them green. Days shown as red indicate that you already have bookings for work with Axcis on those days, and any you leave blue will tell us that you’re not available.

4. Don’t forget to save your changes

Finally, make sure you click on the save button – as shown on the bottom right of the screen shot above. This will ensure that your changes do not get lost when you log back out of the Axcis website. By keeping your diary as up to date as possible, you will ensure that our team know when to contact you for work, so it’s well worth checking it on a regular basis. Please note that you can update up to 3 months of your availability at any one time.

Do you know anyone else seeking SEND teaching or support work?

Don’t forget that we run a generous refer-a-friend scheme, so if you know anyone else who is looking for special needs teaching or support work, check out how to refer them to Axcis here

Axcis Employee of the Month

Each month, we ask our teams to nominate contractors who have gone above and beyond the call of duty while working on behalf of Axcis. From the candidates put forward, one is selected as our Employee of the Month and presented with a £50 voucher as a token of our appreciation. Whether it’s a member of support staff who has made brilliant progress with a student they are supporting, or a teacher who has stepped in at a moments notice to cover a difficult class, all reasons are valid! Find out who has won this month’s award here.

This month’s winner is…

Chris, working for Kira (Axcis London)

How Chris feels about winning

A big thanks to Axcis Education for consistently finding me interesting jobs over the many years that I have worked through them. I have met and worked with many talented people in this time and they have helped me to develop professionally in a way that I would not have done had I remained in one job. I have of course taught some special, talented and interesting children in this time and I carry the memories and experiences with me always.
Many thanks to all for the award of Employee of the month.


Do you want to work for a company that cares?

If you’re looking for a SEND teaching or support job in England or Wales, why not register with Axcis, the SEND recruitment specialists? Or perhaps you need to recruit staff for your school or provision? If so, why not take a look at the Axcis Website, or get in touch today to find out how we can help?

Speech and language development and how you can get children off to a good start (guest post)

Julie Andrews is a Consultant Speech and Language Therapist. She has kindly provided this guest post for the Axcis blog which looks at the development of speech and language as well as how we can recognise speech and sound delays, and how we can help to get children off to a good start with their speech and language.

Speech and communication is an essential tool for life – get your children off to a good start
Photo by Cleyder Duque from Pexels

Why is speech important?

Just one speech sound omission or substitution can mean a child’s speech is unclear to his listener. I say ‘he’ because speech delay affects four boys to one girl.

In the non real-life conditions of the researchers world they tell us that approximately 6% of children have speech and language difficulties in the UK. The majority will not have any other significant developmental difficulties. Whilst most children’s difficulties resolve, children whose difficulties persist into primary school may have long-term problems concerning literacy, socialisation, behaviour and school attainment (James Law et al 2003).

Disordered speech sound patterns in children at 4 years means they are twice as likely to be associated with persistent problems at 7 years.

A third of children with speech delays were found to still have difficulties 3 years later (Barbara Dodd et al, 2017). These children are likely to go on and have developmental verbal dyspraxia or other speech disorders rather than simple delay.

Children likely to present with persistent speech sound disorder, are reported by their mothers to be unintelligible to strangers at age 3 and were likely to still have speech problems at 8 years old. Weak sucking at four weeks old is also associated with persistent speech sound disorder as well as history of poor coordination.

Speech and language therapists and health visitors usually identify children who have difficulties with speech and language by the age of 12 to 18 months. These difficulties are picked up in a much more natural environment and advice on communication and interactive skills is given to the parents.

Simple speech delay presents as one or two minor delays which affect speech intelligibility to some degree. A very common speech sound delay is when children do what speech therapists call ‘fronting’. Fronting means that instead of saying a sound at the back of the mouth (k/g) the child makes the sound at the front (t/d) so the words ‘car’ become ‘tar’ and ‘good’ becomes ‘dood’

Leaving the speech delays to ‘resolve’ can lead children to experience frustration at being misunderstood or teased by peers. This can affect their self-esteem and confidence.

What could you be doing to enable the best start for speech, literacy and social communication?

Babies need love, nurture and communication
Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

We know from research that babies need love, nurture and communication. This is easily done on a day-to-day basis when feeding your baby changing your baby’s nappy and generally taking the time to enjoy those first few crucial years together.

Children need to know the alphabet, hold a pencil, recognise a word, recognise a single sound, be able to recognise rhyme and clap out syllables. These are just some of the basics that should be in place before children start school at the age of five.

Pre-literate children can perform syllable blending, phoneme blending and rhyme;

  • Syllable blending refers to the ability to put two or three syllables together to form a word, i.e. cow and boy put together = cowboy
  • Phoneme blending refers to the ability to put single sounds together to make a word, i.e. c + a + t = cat
  • Rhyme – that doesn’t need explaining, just pick up any Julia Donaldson book in your local library or sing the nursery rhymes from your childhood. If you are creative, make up rhymes about your child, silly made up words are particularly fun

Some children, as they develop speech sounds, get one or two sounds mixed up or may forget to say some sounds. For example, the child might say “Boa.” instead of “Boat.” – these children are deleting the final sound (we call this final consonant deletion) which is normal to about 2 ½ years. If children don’t have speech sound delays addressed before they go to school, they try to learn to read and write with the wrong sounds in place.

Learning the basics of communication through play before starting school is the best way to prepare to learn. If your child is lucky enough to get a Speech and language assessment (SLT) and perhaps some therapy, the SLT will use the medium of play as well as formal 1:1 and group sessions to teach the understanding and use of language and to develop the sounds used in the English speech sound system.

Julie Andrews – Consultant Speech & language therapist

Free advice and more information can be found on Julie’s website

Appendix: The development of speech and language

Speech Sound Development Age Phonological Development
0-3 months Birth cry Reflexive sounds – throaty, vowels (ah ee uh) A variety of different cries – hungry, pain, miserable… Coos and gurgles Production of single syllables and begins blowing bubbles.
3-6 months Babbling begins… double syllables (aga aga) Puts lips together to say /m/ and nasal tone is heard Vocals pleasure and displeasure Stops vocalising when adult enters (word play in their cot) Self-initiated vocal play Babbling show pitch and inflection Vocally expresses eagerness
6-9 months Uses m/n/t/d/p/y/ in babbling multiple syllables. Babbles tunefully – singing tones. May use some non-English sounds during sound play. Intonated patterns heard. Imitates intonation and speech sounds in her own repertoire.
9-12 months Vocalises during play and in front of a mirror. Acquires her first true words @ 10 – 18 months.
1 -1½ years Uses sentence-like intonations (jargon). Some echolalia (copying your words). Uses vowels and some consonants Omits final consonants (bag = ba) Accurately imitates some words.
1½ – 2 years Words increase in frequency. Asks questions by raising intonation at the end of a phrase. Should have acquired p/b/m/w/ These substitutions are typical – cup = tup or tu Spoon = poo sea = tea run = wu ship = ti
2 – 2½ years t/d/n/ sounds emerging Is approximately 70% intelligible. May still omit the final sound and will not yet be using blends.
2½ – 3 years f/s/y/ should be established with the/ l/ sound emerging. Approximately 80% intelligible.
3 – 3½ years Uses final sounds most of the time. The /ch/and /sh/ sounds are emerging. p/ b/m/ w /t/ d/n/ k/ g/ h/ l/ f/ s/ y sounds are well established.
4 – 4½ years Very intelligible in connected speech. May still reduce /s/blends (spoon = poon) /z/ /ch/ /sh/ /v/ sounds are well established with /r/ emerging.
5 – 6 years /r/ and /l/ sounds developing. /S/ blends should be well established.

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