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Help for my DD - not talking in reception

(28 Posts)
twosmallbuttons Wed 05-Nov-14 17:51:56

DD started reception in September. She's a young starter, she was 4 in July. Just before half term her class teacher & TA told me that DD is essentially not talking in class - not to the teachers nor her classmates. I went for a stay & play there today so saw first-hand, she didn't talk to anyone while I was there, and only one word to me sad.

She often is reserved in new situations and with new people, until she gets to know them properly, but I'm starting to worry that in a full class of 30, she doesn't really have the opportunity to get to know the other children in the way she would normally, and doesn't get nearly enough attention from the teacher/TA (understandably).

At home she is talkative, fun, runs around with her younger brother; she is also this way at the childminder's after school and has made friends easily there - so I know this is her 'normal'.

I've tried a few playdates with some children from school, but it doesn't seem to be translating into proper friendships back in the classroom.

I've talked to her a bit about how important it is to talk to people, so they know how fantastic she is, how clever she is etc.

It breaks my heart to think she's there each and every day not really talking to anyone, not really having fun, not engaging. sad

Any ideas for how to encourage the talking?

GallbladderFairy Wed 05-Nov-14 18:04:10

Hmm. I don't want to shout selective mutism but that's what hit me first thought.

Firstly, I think you need to look at how the teachers and ta are engaging her, encouraging her? Have they said what they have tried?

Is it a problem as in she isn't getting what she needs...I.e.. Won't go to the to let at all as she needs to ask for help, won't eat as she won't choose what is on the dinner register, what if she gets hurt? If she is getting what she needs she is obviously communicating in some how is she doing it? Can they build on talking along side this communication? I remember when dd was a little delayed in talking the salt recommended that even though I knew what dd wanted I had to hold off for. A few second in complying to encourage her to say even one word.

Is she engaging in class activities, such as phonics at circle time? Do they go around the circle talking to each child about three letter or sound they are working on?

These are just random jumble of thoughts but hopefully someone more helpful will come along soon!

twosmallbuttons Wed 05-Nov-14 18:09:40

Thanks for the reply. She joins in activities and games led by the teacher, but clearly isn't communicating verbally. She can take herself to the toilet fine, and at lunchtime I presume she gets by on the bare minimum (pointing, nodding etc with perhaps a word or two).

She always talks about what she did at school today, who she 'played' with etc; I had no idea she wasn't actually talking at the time! sad again

GallbladderFairy Wed 05-Nov-14 18:13:48

Ok well if she joins in the games but doesn't speak then perhaps the teacher could try a game that requires speaking? Dunno like sounding ou pt their name or something? (Rubbish example!)

They should have letters or something, maybe books?, to bring home. If so, they should be 'reading' or sounding to the teacher. Does she do that?

twosmallbuttons Wed 05-Nov-14 18:18:13

I'm not sure how much 'reading' she does in the classroom, but she brings home a new book almost every day and we read it over the course of the week.

Part of my frustration is with the way the teacher/TA told me this - they made it sound like she has a problem, rather than accepting that some children are naturally quieter and may require a different teaching approach. The TA even said to DD, sitting next to me, "I want to see you put your hand up at carpet time ok?" which I thought quite insensitive.

GallbladderFairy Wed 05-Nov-14 18:37:02

That does sound insensitive, especially of she is not comfortable talking to them. sad

I think you really need to go back to the teacher and get some more info. If she us bringing home books they will need to hear her read at some stage. You need to get them to come up with some solutions about how they can engage her. This is their job. You can try at home to tell her until you are blue in the face but at the end of the day it is not like you are in the classroom with a big stick to beat dd with if she doesn't speak.

You need strategies documented and recorded to take this further if it need to be taken further, otherwise any professional is just going to send you back to get evidence from the school. If you do decide to look for professional help then you need too in already armed with the info.

Go back to the teachers!

GallbladderFairy Wed 05-Nov-14 18:38:35

Also, does she have a 'reading record'? Most kids have these once they reach the stage of bringing home books. It usually had individual reading to the teacher and guided reading sessions recorded in it? As well as your comments of course!

kahori Wed 05-Nov-14 18:42:50

My friend's daughter was selectively mute at school until Yr 3. She is in Yr 5 now and although she is quiet she does speak.

When she was mute she did not speak at all in school - not even to her friends at playtime yet she had a close group of friends who were always with her and spoke for her. She would speak to them fine out of school and like your dd she spoke at home and at her childminders.

They did a lot of work with her to get her comfortable with talking at school. She did a lot of Play Therapy and sessions with a psychologist. It was all done very gently and at a slow pace.

missnevermind Wed 05-Nov-14 18:43:50

It really is more common than you think.
One of my elder DSs did not speak until nearly Christmas the year he started reception. But the teacher didn't think it was important enough to tell us hmm
He is 14 now and still suffers with anxiety but he spoke in his own time once he felt comfortable.

A couple of friends also have had the same thing in nursery or reception

yomellamoHelly Wed 05-Nov-14 18:45:07

My dd does this too. Is now in year 1. School made the massive mistake of turning it into a big thing. At nursery they could coax her into talking when doing imaginative play with them. To start with she wouldn't talk anywhere on the school grounds because she was so sensitive about it, but will now start talking as soon as she's out the class door regardless of who hears her. It prevents the teachers being able to assess what she does and doesn't know properly. This years teacher is taking a much more relaxed approach to it and I think that's why she's become less sensitive. She is stubborn though so can't see it stopping any time soon. SALT's suggestion was to go in with her early each day this year and play with her in the classroom to "de-sensitise" her, but life has been too hectic to start that yet.

taeglas Wed 05-Nov-14 19:05:51

Perhaps your daughter would benifit from being part of a small talk nurture group.
I work as a TA in key stage 1 and run talk intervention groups as part of my job. I have seen childrens confidence improve in the classroom after taking part in small group intervention.
The school I work at uses Time To Talk with reception children.
The school also run a lunchtime games club (board games) targeted at certain children.

Mitzi50 Wed 05-Nov-14 19:08:24

Over the years I have taught 3 children who did not speak for some time when they started reception. All have eventually talked but some took longer than others. Within a couple of weeks it was clear that these children were more than just averagely shy or hesitant so I used different tactics. As their teacher I have tried to provide them with opportunities to talk but removed any pressure to talk. I did not make any kind of fuss about their lack of speech and discouraged other staff from fussing or commenting when the child was present. I think comments and fuss make some children even more anxious, embarrassed and unable to talk. At circle time they were given the opportunity to speak but (as with all the children) could pass the toy if they didn't want to speak. I asked them simple, closed questions (yes/no) so they didn't feel pressurised to say anything. I tried to provide them with opportunities to play with other children in a quieter area than the classroom - the other children were not phased by their lack of speech. With one little chap you could see him trying to get words out but they seemed to get stuck in his throat - when he responded "yes" to a question in the spring term, I had to stop myself from shouting with joy.

twosmallbuttons Wed 05-Nov-14 19:30:53

Thanks for all the replies. Am going home to read further & research.
Is there anything I can do at home to help, or is it really just down to the teachers? (Besides me talking to them obviously)

rocketjam Wed 05-Nov-14 19:56:17

Could you make an appointment with the school SENCO (special educational needs coordinator)? Without being confrontational about it, just raise your concerns with her/him and ask if she could be at a meeting with the teacher. DS2 has a speech disorder and I found that TAs generally don't have much training on how to deal with a child with speech issues, unless the are specifically trained for it. You can ask for a plan to be put in place, and to make sure that there is nopressure on your DD to speak. She could have a set of cards to express some of her needs (need the loo/thirsty/I feel ill/someone hurt me). The teacher could also set up a few special talking times, during which your DD and 2-3 other children can be taken out of the classroom to play a board game, have a book read to them and talk about it, etc. She might be fine talking to other children in small groups. The school should have a strategy in place as it's not uncommon.

ClawHandsIfYouBelieveInFreaks Wed 05-Nov-14 20:50:10

My older DD didn't talk in reception at all OP. It was a tiny private prep and I think had she done the whole year like that in a state school, they'd have had her assessed for selective mutism.

As it happened she began to open out a bit in year 1 and by the time year 2 as over, she was fully communicating. We then moved school and after a shaky start, she began to fully talk. She's ten now and fine.x

kahori Wed 05-Nov-14 22:59:17

The cards are a good suggestion. My friend's dd used those so that she had a way to express her needs and they worked quite well.

Allisgood1 Wed 05-Nov-14 23:08:06

Following with interest. My Dd1 is in year 1. She doesn't speak much and her teachers have flagged it and referred her to the senco hmm This is the first teacher to make a big deal of her shyness. I feel she does do things in class to put dd on the spot which probably isn't helping. Parents eve tomorrow and I intend to find out exactly what they are on about before approaching them about it.

twosmallbuttons Wed 05-Nov-14 23:21:39

I've found some useful info on the Smira website, info for teachers too, how they can support a SM child in the classroom.
I'm going to ask DD's teacher for a meeting at drop-off tomorrow, and hopefully they will be supportive of my concerns. I don't want to be fobbed off.

BigcatLittlecat Wed 05-Nov-14 23:22:56

Although it is very worrying for you I have had a few children in my reception class who would not talk but in all cases they have started to talk in the end. The school do have to be sensitive to her though and give her opportunity to communicate! If someone is not properly trained as maybe the TA here it can be frustrating and they may thing the strong approach will work!
One little girl I had was apparently a chatter box at ble but completely silent in school so with the parents support I started going around to her house for a cup of tea after school just sat chatting with her mum. Quite quickly she started saying a few words in front of me, then to me and this transferred to school. Like a previous poster said we wanted to whoop with joy! But of course we didn't! Now further up the school she is quiet but talking!
OP go back to the school and speak to Senco.

twosmallbuttons Wed 05-Nov-14 23:32:54

Thanks Bigcat. Both the teacher and the TA came to our house a week before DD started school, on a home visit, so they experienced her being chatty, playful, drawing & talking about it etc. Then when she went to school she didn't say a word, & they 'couldn't understand it' hmm
Does every school have a SENCO?

AliMonkey Wed 05-Nov-14 23:41:06

Sounds like my son. He has selective mutism. At nursery we thought he was just shy but school took it seriously. He has been following the Maggie Johnson breaking down barriers programme since Y1, doing 2-3 sessions a week with a TA.

He has never deliberately talked to a teacher although had occasionally been so excited about something that he has spoken but through the programme he has gradually started talking to TAs and to more and more of his classmates. I recommend talking to the SENCO. Ours tried to get SALT and CAMHS involved but they didn't have the resources but we are getting input from Ed psych.

DS has progressed so far since reception - he is now in Y3 - all in tiny steps, but still has a long way to go. He has also reduced his anxiety in situations outside school and now talks to a wider range of people outside school.

If your DD does have SM then the quicker she gets help the more it will improve - if it is left until eg age 7/8 then apparently they are much more likely to not resolve it ever.

Let us know how you get on.

AliMonkey Wed 05-Nov-14 23:41:49

Yes every school has a SENCO

AliMonkey Wed 05-Nov-14 23:49:08

Approaches used for DS in classroom are allowing him to answer questions on whiteboard rather than verbally, answering register with a thumbs up, holding up signs in class performances and giving him cards saying eg "I need the toilet", "no custard please". Can then communicate his needs and will sometimes eventually lead to him giving up on the cards and speaking (but very dependent on who to, where and who else can hear).

Location often important eg will actually chat to TA in library but won't say a word to her in classroom.

The programme takes small steps changing one thing (eg location, person you are talking to, who is listening, length of response needed) and definitely works but needs patience from everyone involved.

twosmallbuttons Thu 06-Nov-14 20:41:34

I went to see DD's teacher & TA today. Had a good 25 talk about her, amazing! Anyway...
The outcome is that I don't think she does have SM after all. Although she was not talking when I first arrived, towards the end of our meeting when DD was clearly bored & ready to go, after a bit of prompting she ended up telling them about the green parrot that was on our bird feeder the other day! And about the woodpecker smile and on...and on... grin

I feel greatly relieved that actually it doesn't seem as bad as I thought yesterday. Happy that I talked to the teachers immediately though. And grateful as ever for the fantastic advice on here flowers

twosmallbuttons Thu 06-Nov-14 20:42:03

thanks Were meant to be there at the end

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