Which Orchard Toys games are useful for children with Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN)?

Over the last couple of months I’ve been highlighting recommended resources for supporting children with dyslexia and dyscalculia. This month I’m looking at games that are helpful for children with Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN).

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Once again, I’ve been very fortunate to be able to try out some of Orchard Toys’ learning games and I wanted to share with you which of their (many!) fantastic games are great for helping support children with Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN). If you didn’t know already, Orchard Toys are a wonderful company and one of the leading manufacturers of educational puzzles and games. (Full disclosure, Orchard Toys has sponsored this post)

What do we mean by Speech Language and Communication Needs (SLCN) ?

Speech, Language and Communication needs (SLCN) is an ‘umbrella term’ as it covers a whole range of needs. It’s not just about struggling to speak clearly. It includes everything from finding it difficult to understand and use speech sounds correctly and not being able to speak fluently to social communication (understanding body language, facial expressions, social cues). SLCN also includes children finding receptive and expressive language difficult. Receptive language is when they understand what others are saying to them. Expressive language is when they can choose the correct words and put them in a logical order when speaking. It’s estimated that around 1 in 10 children have a SLCN, this includes children who might have another type of Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) and SLCN alongside it, as well as those who predominantly have SLCN. Autistic children for example, may also have a SLCN.

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How might you notice a child has a SLCN at school or at home?

SLCN are often referred to as a ‘hidden disability’ so it can be really difficult to identify children who need support in this area. There’s also a lot of overlap between different types of Special Educational Needs and SLCN which makes it trickier.

In my experience, it can be easier to notice if a child has SLCN when it effects their speech and sounds, but not as easy when it impacts on their receptive language (their understanding of what is being said) as it may incorrectly come across as a child just not paying attention.

In general, you’re looking for children who don’t have as many words in their vocabulary as their peers, those that might be misunderstanding instructions, using words in the wrong context, might have speech thats difficult to understand and struggle with their social skills. Having a SLCN can be incredibly frustrating for children, so you may also notice that they are struggling with their behaviour.

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What do you do if you think a child has a SLCN?

Early identification is hugely important for all types of SEND, including SLCN. Therefore, if you think a child has a SLCN speak to a professional about it. If they are at school, the best person to talk to is their school’s SENDCO (Special Educational Needs and Disability Coordinator). You may start by mentioning it to their teacher and asking if they can speak to the SENDCO about it.

Which educational games by Orchard Toys would I recommend to help support speech, language and communication and why?

Games are a great way of helping children to develop speech, language and communication skills whilst having fun. Whilst they can’t replace support from a speech and language therapist (if the child needs one), they are still a great way of practising these skills. Games also have the added benefit of helping children with social communication, understanding turn taking, body language etc.

Here’s my favourite of Orchard Toys’ learning games for developing speech, language and communication skills:

– Match and Spell – Understanding and using letter sounds correctly is a huge part of speech, language and communication development and this game is great for that. This game has two games in one, but my preferred way to play this is to put the letter tiles face down, each pick 1 or 2 word frames and then take it in turns to choose a letter and see if it fits on your frame(s). I love that this game is a really gentle way of helping children with their speech, language and communication skills. It’s not making them speak, but instead giving them opportunities to sound out the letters when they make their words.

– First Sounds Lotto – This game is so clever and I absolutely love it. It also involves listening to real sounds, which is a winner! It’s essentially bingo with sounds. Players choose a grid, then you listen to the sounds on the app (which you can record your own sounds on too!). When they hear a sound that matches to one on their grid, they are encouraged to make the sound and pop the matching card in place. A lovely, fun way of getting children recognising sounds and making them too – which is key to early years speech, language and communication development.

Slimy Rhymes – Rhymes are really important for speech, language and communication skills and this has to be one of my favourite rhyming games I’ve come across. Mainly because it’s sure to get children giggling! The aim of the game it to find two rhyming word pieces, you then get the fun of spinning the spinner and acting out the silly instruction! What I liked about this game is not only does it focus on rhyming, but it also helps children to practise following instructions – which is a key area of difficulty that often gets overlooked within the SLCN umbrella.

– Shopping List- If you’re looking for a game to get children practising their speech, language and communication skills through imaginative play then this is the one to pick. Children have to try to match the shopping items on the pieces to their shopping list to fill up their basket. It’s lovely and fun and a wonderful way to get children chatting.

All of these games and more can be found on the Orchard Toys website here.

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