Classroom Strategies for Children with Speech, Language and Communication Difficulties

chatterbug in school

Many children have speech, language and communication needs (SLCN), but SLCN is often under-identified in schools. A study by Bercow showed that around half of children with SLCN are not picked up in primary schools, so it’s important to think about how many pupils you might typically expect to have SLCN in school. 

10% of children have long term SLCN. For a school with 1,000 pupils, that’s 100 with SLCN. In a small school of 200 pupils, that’s 20 pupils. That’s two or three in every classroom. Identification is key across all phases of education, from early years through primary, secondary and beyond. SLCN can be complex and difficult to identify, so an ongoing focus and putting in the right classroom strategies to support these pupils is absolutely imperative.

Without the benefit of classroom strategies, children with speech, language and communication difficulties will usually go on to have social and emotional development issues, which can significantly hold back their educational progress.

Whether your school works with external SLCN specialists, or has a SENCo expert based in your school, providing all teaching staff with the knowledge of how to implement SLCN strategies in classrooms is highly important. 

With around 50% of children in areas of deprivation having a speech, language or communication difficulty at early years’ settings, schools with high numbers of pupils from deprived areas particularly need staff to have knowledge and skills in this type of SEN.

We have collated some of the most effective online and in-person strategies for supporting children with SLCN in the classroom:


In-person strategies


Listening skills


Helping children to understand the importance of listening and how to do it well is crucial, these are some of the key actions:


  • Check the child’s hearing ability
  • Check levels of understanding by giving simple instructions when they are listening
  • Break down listening; teach them that this means sitting or standing still, looking at the person who is speaking, listen to the person and think about what is being said
  • Talk about why it is important to listen; for playing with friends, working at school etc
  • Incentivise good listening practice with praise or other rewards, starting with simple instructions first and encouraging them to listen to sounds in their environment
  • Preface activities with listening instructions to remind children how to listen well
  • Monitor who is listening and give feedback to those who are and are not listening
  • Talk about the success of their listening e.g. “Sarah knew what to draw because she had listened very well.”
  • Encourage children to evaluate whether their classmates are listening and the consequences of listening/not listening well
  • Encourage children to evaluate their own listening skills



To help children to understand language, you might want to try:


  • Slowing down your speech
  • Breaking a sentence into short separate ideas
  • Use non-verbal clues such as pointing, pictures
  • Use simple words, targeting key vocabulary
  • Reinforce through repetition
  • Allow pauses for a response
  • Re-phrase sentences
  • Encourage questions


Talking skills


To support a child’s talking development:


  • Write down what they are saying to identify strengths and weaknesses
  • Talk through activities the child is doing
  • Repeat words in different situations e.g. “red box”, “red crayon” etc.
  • Give corrective feedback by repeating how the word or sentence should be said
  • Expand on their sentences
  • Use music and rhymes
  • Use forced alternative questions e.g. “Do you want milk or juice?”
  • Use open questions


Online strategies


As well as using different language development techniques in the classroom environment, there are also online solutions available. For example, Chatterbug provides a Telehealth service which uses cutting-edge software technology to provide a range of engaging activities to help children with speech, language and communication difficulties. 


This includes interactive game-like strategies that children find fun to complete, which helps to achieve outstanding progress with language development. This style of strategy is also ideal for children to work on from home and can be provided even during lockdown restrictions or where schools are closed for holidays.


Find out more about the different strategies by registering for one of our online courses, which we deliver on a monthly basis, covering a wide range of SLCN areas and support techniques.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.