When Jameel started kindergarten, his teacher saw that he was confused, sometimes angry and needed help separating from his mum. He spoke very little, needed teacher support to connect with peers and understood only a little English. He’d arrived with his parents from the Middle East, and had spent 12 months in COVID isolation with no contact with children other than his younger brother. Urdu is the family’s first language.
His parents wanted Jameel to be able to communicate in English and make friends. They were also keen to have him referred to Royal Far West for help with speech and language.
A partnership between The Early Childhood Service (Goodstart Pialba Kindergarten) and RFW meant that Jameel could access weekly telehealth speech therapy services onsite.
The RFW speech therapist set goals for the term and each week, followed up with resources to be used both at home and in kindergarten. They wanted Jameel to focus on developing receptive and expressive language skills in English and to monitor his switching between Urdu and English.
The Early Childhood Team (ECT) also requested a social story to help Jameel learn appropriate behaviours at home and at kindy.
The RFW and ECT teams distinguished between language difference and language delay by monitoring how Jameel responded to unusual directions, by building his social competencies and by using visuals to which he responded positively.
The program developed for Jameel included small group teaching sessions with three of his peers, (Jameel selecting two, the teacher selecting another capable and confident communicator), to build his social skills and a sense of agency.
Jameel’s group used visual resources to start building simple sentences based on an image on a board, taking turns to tell a short sentence story to each other. Jameel began teaching the other children how to play the game; in the process building his language and social skills.
Now, after three terms, Jameel has made significant progress because of the intervention provided by the RFW speech therapist. He responds appropriately to questions, can follow directions, is naming familiar objects in English and enlarging his vocabulary. He uses complex sentences spontaneously as he joins in conversations and waits his turn to talk and listen.
Jameel’s interpersonal skills have developed; he enjoys helping adults, has made friends and joins in peer play. He can talk about basic feelings and is much more comfortable with new experiences and meeting new people.
Importantly, he is showing awareness of others’ feelings and is learning to assert himself in acceptable ways rather than shouting or throwing.
His mum is pleased with his progress, “Jameel can tell me about a picture while we are reading, (“the goat is eating grass”). He’s also started telling me about his day. For example, he tells me ‘Jack did something funny’, and Oliver and Luca are his best friends.”
Notably Jameel’s self-esteem has grown. His verbal communication skills appear to be giving him the confidence to lead in small group games. He enjoys role play and is proud of being able to lead a small group game.
He is also trying to ask different questions like ‘why did this happen?’, ‘why do you do that?’ He is still struggling to grasp the concepts of things but overall I have seen a great improvement in him.”
Jameel will begin prep school in 2023 and the summary reports provided by the speech therapist will help his teachers and any follow up specialist support.
Jameel’s success, and others like him, is due to a strong partnership between RFW and the Goodstart Pialba Kindergarten and the shared approach of teaming with families and early childhood staff.
*To ensure privacy and confidentiality for our client family, real names or images are not used.