Learning to talk and communicate is one of the most important skills that we learn, affecting almost every part of our lives. At Townhouse we pride ourselves on meeting the individual and unique needs of each child and so we monitor closely all children’s speech, language and communication development to ensure we can intervene at the earliest stage to close any development gaps that might occur.
As part of our commitment to being communication champions, we invested in Wellcomm, a toolkit for early years that helps identify children who may need extra help and support with their speech, language and communication development. Used by other professionals, such as speech and language therapists, it is a screening kit partly done through everyday play observations but that also includes focussed age and stage appropriate questions and adult:child interactions.
The Townhouse teams at Audley Road and Lawton Road nurseries have received training on Wellcomm and are regularly coached in its use by our own Early Years Teachers. As a nursery, we already regularly track children’s progress in order to plan and implement next steps for their learning. We now use the Wellcomm screening if we identified a child was assessed as being below their age or if a parent highlighted a particular concern.
We always keep parent partnerships and communication at the forefront of children’s learning and development, so before any Wellcomm screening takes place, a child’s key person will discuss the process and ensure parents are kept informed throughout.
Since its implementation at Townhouse, we have seen a real positive impact on children’s communication and language skills and confidence, as well as it supporting other areas of development such as managing feelings and behaviour and the use of mathematical language.
Alfie started Townhouse when he was 11 months old in the baby room, where he built close relationships with all of the adults. His learning and development was at the expected stage for his age.
As he became an older baby, around 18 months, it was clear to us as parents that he wasn’t saying as many words as we thought he would be for his age and he was still very much at the babbling stage.
We had a routine parents evening with Alfie’s key person at nursery, where we had a really good discussion about what he enjoys at nursery and how his progress is. His key person highlighted to us what we already suspected and informed us that Alfie was slightly behind in his speaking, however reassured us that this was nothing to be concerned about. We discussed next steps and how we could support Alfie both at home and nursery.
Rebecca, the Early Years Teacher then used the Wellcomm screening tool in order to identify his strengths and weaknesses in communication and language. The screening highlighted that Alfie was slightly behind in his speaking and after a discussion with Rebecca she then told us in more detail information about the screening. She explained that Alfie has a set of tailored play activities and next steps which his key person will work on throughout the next three months at nursery.
Rebecca then shared a copy of Alfie’s next steps and activities with us to take home. These were really simple, self-explanatory activities which were fun for Alfie to do and most of them could be done during his normal daily routine. We have continually provided opportunities for Alfie to do these at home.
After just a couple of months of working on Alfie’s next steps both at home and at nursery, Rebecca screened Alfie again and at age 25 months, he is now in his expected level of development for speaking. He has a wide vocabulary of words and is using two-word sentences. We have really noticed an increase in his self-confidence and he is much less frustrated now he is able to communicate his needs, which for us as parents is so reassuring and lovely to have seen this growth in his confidence and development take effect in such a short period of time.