Supporting children with difficulties speaking and understanding on No Pens Day Wednesday

 

How can no pens activities help you to identify pupils who have difficulty speaking and understanding language?

Taking part in No Pens Day Wednesday can draw attention to the pupils who find speaking and understanding language challenging.

No Pens Day Wednesday activities can draw attention to potential difficulties with speaking and understanding that a child or young person may be experiencing. Some pupils may be very quiet, use short sentences, or be difficult to understand. They may be slow to respond to spoken information or unable to follow instructions. For others, you might notice issues with their behaviour – they may play up or “act out” to mask their difficulties. When interacting with others, they may struggle to listen, take turns or make eye contact. They might have difficulty “keeping up” with their peers in play or conversations.

When preparing No Pens Day Wednesday, we encourage staff to refresh their knowledge on the typical stages of speech and language development. Understanding these can help you spot the signs that a child or young person is having difficulty in this area.

Of our survey respondents in 2020:

  • 85% agreed they knew more about how to develop children’s speaking and understanding skills
  • 71% agreed that they knew how to better spot difficulties with speaking and understanding language

 

How can no pens activities support pupils with difficulties speaking and understanding language – including those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)?

The aim of No Pens Day Wednesday is to include all children and young people in activities with a focus on speaking and understanding language to support their learning. This includes pupils who have difficulties speaking and understanding language, and pupils with SEND. 

As detailed above, putting down pens may help you to spot pupils who are struggling with speaking and understanding language. For other pupils who have already been identified as requiring additional support, focusing on speaking and understanding language can help them to develop their skills in this crucial area, which is the foundation for much of their learning. 

Our lesson plans include recommendations on how to adapt activities for additional needs or different ability levels in mainstream settings.

We encourage schools to maintain a focus on speaking and understanding language after No Pens Day. By creating a communication supportive environment in your classroom, you can continue to promote and support speaking and understanding skills for all pupils, including those with difficulties. 

 

How can you support speaking and understanding skills beyond the day?
  • I CAN's training programmes for practitioners working in early years, primary and secondary settings are designed to help pupils with difficulties speaking and understanding language to catch up with their peers.
  • Visit our Talking Point website for guidance on supporting pupils’ speaking and understanding skills in the classroom, including identifying pupils with difficulties in this area and putting the right support in place. 
  • The 2018 Bercow: Ten Years On report on provision for children with difficulties speaking and understanding language in the UK includes a range of recommendations and resources for schools and colleges. 
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