Seriously, though, I really do love Early Years settings.

I have had the privilege to spend a lot of time in Early Years during my career. The first two jobs I had as a Speech Therapist involved working for SureStart projects. I don’t know if you remember them, but these were projects dedicated to bringing great, innovative approaches to all parts of children and families' lives during early childhood, including their education settings. I got to do a lot of training and support for Early Years settings as part of my work.

Let me tell you why I love Early Years settings so much:

  • You have so much impact on our children's communication skills, and you take it so seriously. The Early Years sector is so dedicated to its children and you put in so much work.
  • I think you are the most child-led, evidence-based part of the education system. Early Years is not about squeezing children into boxes, it’s about letting them show us how to teach them. I hope you realise what highly skilled work this is, and how it aligns so completely to what we know about how children learn
  • You are the most inclusive part of our education system in my opinion. I have specialised in working with children with very complex needs during my career. I can’t tell you how often an Early Years setting has included a child I am working with, without hesitation, when the same is not always true further up in the education system. Because you know that, whatever complexities a child’s medical conditions or developmental needs present, they are first and foremost a child. And you are the experts in children.
  • You are seriously underappreciated for your skills and knowledge. When learning is play, it is easy for people to underestimate your skills
  • Don’t get me started on how your sector has been treated through the pandemic!!

One of my frustrations as regards children's communication and Early Years is the erratic way that training and support is funded. Every few years, the Government notices that children’s communication is an area of concern, and they throw a programme of training at the Early Years sector. This programme will be the one to turn a whole generation of language skills around! This is a big ask for Early Years (and I get really annoyed that these efforts never seem to extend into programmes for primary and secondary education).

These programmes are usually fantastic, by the way. I have delivered them on behalf of organisations like Elklan and ICAN myself. But sooner or later, the funding ends, the Government focus moves on, and Early Years is left trying to maintain momentum and skills until the next big programme comes around.

I want your setting, and every setting, to have the ongoing access to training and support you need to get on with rocking the business of supporting the development of young children.

I am building a membership community for Early Years, TeamSLCN Early Years, and I would love to you to join me. It’s coming in September 2021 (so if you are reading this in the future, maybe it already exists!).

Here is what you can do right now:

  • Join my Facebook group for free communication-related content and tools
  • Join my mailing list to stay up-to-date on what I am covering on my free pages and groups, for freebies, and for offers on services like the Early Years membership

Thanks for being here! Every setting can be a great place for children's communication. Every person can make a difference to a child with SLCN.