Every child has a need and a right to be able to communicate. However, children with learning difficulties may face obstacles to communication.
The charter opposite was drawn up by the James Rennie School and sets out children's basic communication and interaction rights.
- Do you think the icons enhance the written word?
- What do you think each symbol means?
What is the difference between language and communication?
- Make a list of six of your regular daily activities.
- Put the letter 'c' next to those that you think involve communication.
- Put the letter 'l' next to those that you think involve language.
- Look at the 'c' and 'l' activities and write one definition of communication and one of language.
- What differences and similarities do you see?
In the previous exercise we looked at the relationship between language and communication. Now, let's look at this from the child's perspective. Try to answer the following questions. When you have finished, click on the question to reveal the answer.
Do children need language to communicate?
Not necessarily. Some children with communication difficulties are able to understand the feelings and social aspects of language despite struggling with syntax (grammar).
Do children need to communicate to be able to engage in language?
No. Some children who have difficulties communicating will manage to understand the structural elements of conversation. So, for example, children on the autistic spectrum will be able to take part in a conversation despite the fact that they might not understand the evaluative or social meanings of that conversation.
If you spoke these words to a random person in the street, unless they were familiar with Lewis Carroll, it is likely that they would have no idea what you were talking about.
For language and communication to function there needs to be a shared knowledge and purpose among those who are using it.
Watch this clip taken from a review meeting. At one point in the clip, Janice talks about her ambitions for her son, Marley
What are her communication aspirations for Marley? How much do you think the other general gains Janice describes are influenced by improvements in Marley's communication skills?
Janice wants Marley to be able to have normal conversations, without anyone having to hold him back because he is saying too much, or encouraging him to be more forthcoming.
The Communication Trust (2012) Let's talk about it: What new teachers need to know about children's communication skills.