A Derry nursery which has engaged its own speech and language therapist to help support children in the school has just picked up a prestigious communication award.
Galliagh Nursery School on the Heather Road has won the Elklan accredited communication friendly school award recognising its commitment to encouraging the development of speech, language and communication in pre-school children.
Caroline Cosgrove, speech therapist who has been working with both staff and school, has in partnership with staff, made huge strides in improving communication skills among the children.
“When we began we worked with the children and the staff,” she said. “The staff now run the bigger groups and I work with smaller groups with children and the parents.
“It’s important to us that language is embedded in the curriculum and parents are aware.”
Principal of the nursery Majella McDowell revealed that working hand in hand with Caroline, and with parents, has been key to the success of the project.
“In our newsletters we send out lots of information,” she said. “There are certain language skills we are promoting and asking parents to work alongside us.”
Caroline said that language and communication skills begin at an early age, and from birth cooing and babbling is a sign of a child tuning into communication.
“There is a critical period of language development that starts to tail off when children are 5 and 6,” she said. “The earlier the intervention the better.”
Principal Majella paid tribute to Caroline’s work in assisting the school.
“It is the key to learning and development,” she said. “If our children cannot understand what is said to them or cannot get their message across they will quickly become excluded from learning.
“We believe it is essential that good communication skills are encouraged and that families are supported to develop these skills at home. We are delighted to have achieved this kite mark which recognises the high level of skill and commitment of our staff.”
Galliagh nursery is one of a number of nurseries around Derry that engage their own speech therapist.
Many of the children in the pre school are also supported by speech therapists employed by the Western Trust.