Like many children her age, my 6-year-old can be reluctant to talk about her school day at pick-up, preferring to share precious nuggets of information as I’m leaving the room at bedtime. I’ll say, “See you later alligator” and she’ll casually respond with something like “I stroked baby chicks today. They were called Fluffy and Barry”, having not mentioned this at all in the 4 hours since coming home.

She caught me off guard on Friday when she ran out of school desperate to tell me about something that had happened that morning. She excitedly explained that during a lesson about flammable materials, the burning of the straw had got a little out of hand, damaging a table and setting off the fire alarm. The school had to be evacuated, and the start of lunch was disrupted (this was an important detail for a child who loves her food). She recounted the event with much enthusiasm, pausing occasionally to check my response to her tale. She clearly recalled and explained the key events, hopping from one foot to the other with excitement, finally exclaiming “Can you believe it? The fire alarm went off because of a real fire!”

This little exchange reminded me of the joy and connection that can come from sharing news and the challenges that young people with SLCN might experience when attempting to do this. With this in mind, here are some ideas for how you can ensure that those who experience difficulties expressing themselves have the opportunity to successfully share their exciting news with others.


  1. Provide a good model: briefly outline your own weekend activities. Demonstrate use of time concepts, such as ‘first…then’. Explain how activities made you feel and why. Hearing a good model of how to share news will support the young person to understand how to share their own.
  2. Use visuals/props: encourage the young person’s family to send in some pictures via the class email, along with a short explanation of the news they want to share. Alternatively, they could draw (and label if they are able to) a picture to share with the class or bring in an object that relates to their news.
  3. Provide a structure: help the young person organise their ideas using visuals. For example, you could use the Talk Template – describe what happened from the Language Link programme to help the young person organise their ideas and ensure that they get all the key information across to the listener. It might be helpful to work through the template with the young person 1-1 to practise what they’re going to say before they share with another adult or their classmates.
  4. Use questions wisely: open questions are a great way of encouraging expression, but some children will find them challenging to answer. They may struggle to work out what it is you want to know and give you a huge amount of detail or no information at all i.e., “What did you do at the weekend?” – “Nothing”. Try asking questions that give the child more guidance about what you want to know, e.g., “What was the best thing you did at the weekend?” or “What made you smile?”
  5. Adapt your questions to the child’s level: for children who do not yet have the language skills to respond to an open question, you will need to adapt your questions to their level, e.g., “Who did you see?” “Where did you go?” “How did that feel?” – the short explanation from home will give you the context to enable you to do this. Use the Language Link Question Cue Cards alongside Makaton signs to cue the child in to what type of question they are being asked.
  6. Try something different: an alternative to sharing news would be to encourage the young person to talk about what they DID NOT do at the weekend. For example, “At the weekend I did NOT go to Mars in a rocket, and I did NOT share my picnic lunch with a Martian”. Let their imaginations run wild. The child might find it helpful to draw a picture of what they have not done at the weekend first, so that they can use this to support them when feeding back to others.

Find out more about how Language Link helps support pupils share their news at:

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