Supporting pre-school and younger children
Key worker meets with child every day
Joining in with a young child's play
Encouraging non-verbal communication e.g. nodding and shaking head
Encouraging non-verbal noises as part of games and activities e.g. clapping, animal noises
Casual encouragements to contribute a spoken response. E.g. My favourite colour is blue, I wonder what yours is? Pause, briefly to allow time for a possible response. If received, say something positive about what they said but not that they spoke. E.g. Green. Oh, I like green as well. If they don't respond then continue casually with a comment that invites a yes/no answer that they can deliver through a nod or shake of the head. E.g. Is your favourite colour red? If the child is reluctant to nod or shake head they can be invited to point to a picture or object.
Avoiding situations where there is an audience other than key worker
When a trusting relationship has been established with a key worker and the child is beginning to respond in 1-1 context try activities designed to develop language skills. E.g. A game of matching pictures to the written word. The adults speaks the word and holds up the word and the child then selects the right picture from a selection. Repeat this activity over a few days ensuring the child is fully confident in matching pictures. When confident introduce new game where the child is invited to speak the word when showed each picture. Praise is given for correct answers not for speaking.
A programme of support should only change one variable to avoid triggering anxiety in the child.
When progress is made give time to consolidate before building on it. Slow progress is more likely to be sustained.
Regular whole class activities that involve repetitive chants, rhymes and actions. No attention is given to the selective mute joining in or not.
Supporting Older Children
Strategies above for younger children may still be suitable.
Use of sound recorders to rehearse and record what the child wants to say. This is then played in the context causing anxiety such as class discussions and Show and Tell.
Priming the child in advance so they have time to prepare and rehearse answers and contributions.
Use of verbal scaffolding such as stem sentences E.g. My favourite food is...
Giving responsibility within class such as handing out resources which develops confidence with peers.
Activities to build self-esteem
Hearing a younger child read
Teaching them playground games
Ensuring that when the regular staff are absent that cover staff are familiar with the child's needs.