Development of Understanding

Pupils with limited understanding need language delivering in a way that accommodates their attention levels and the type and amount of language they can process. These activities will support and develop language and communication for all pupils, but most importantly it is the rich, stimulating, exciting, fun and valued environment that will enable the pupil to truly achieve.

What are the prerequisite skills?

The pupil must be able to…

  • hear the speaker
  • locate and attend to the speaker
  • explore the environment
  • use objects purposefully
  • start to develop symbolic play
  • have developed appropriate attention and listening skills
  • have developed appropriate memory skills
  • understand the effect they can have on others and their environment

Recognising comprehension difficulties

The pupil may…

  • not respond to requests / instructions individually or within a group
  • look at other pupils or follow their lead
  • try to distract attention from task/have poor concentration
  • echo what they have heard
  • repeat instructions rather than carry them out.
  • try to control / lead activities.
  • complete tasks inappropriately or not know how to start
  • want to stay within familiar routines
  • appear anxious, confused or fearful of change
  • have restricted social relationships
  • use learnt stereotyped phrases
  • appear disruptive, rude or disobedient, exhibiting challenging behaviour.
  • misinterpret the use of negatives - e.g. a pupil wearing black shoes may put their hand up when asked ‘put your hand up if you don’t have black shoes on’.

Implementation in the classroom

In order to develop a pupil’s comprehension it is important that:

  • All staff are aware of the pupil’s current level of understanding; this information should be included in the pupil’s communication passport.
  • All staff ensure that the language used with the pupil is at an appropriate level e.g. for a pupil at a one word level of understanding use mainly single words / highlight a key word in a phrase - ‘where is your coat?’
  • Staff are aware of specific IEP targets so that these can be reinforced throughout the school day in different settings.
  • All staff are aware of identified support strategies to be used with the pupil so that these can be used consistently throughout the school.
  • The environment is set up to take into account the pupil’s level of understanding e.g. be aware of visual/auditory distractions. Always use the same area of the classroom for specific activities. Ref. TEACCH.
  • Staff always use the agreed, consistent vocabulary/visual prompts e.g. symbols, objects of reference/instructions for routine tasks/ activities. Ref Appendix 1.

It is important to consider for each pupil how to collate / objectively record and monitor progress, such as use of photographic or video evidence and annotated work. Secondary pupils may wish to collate their own work to include in their portfolios.

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Last updated: 28 October 2015

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