Non-clinical early years placement
I began the MSc Speech & Language Sciences at University College London in August 2016. This is a 25-month, full-time course. During the autumn term we attend lectures three days each week, one day is dedicated to private study and one day is spent on placement. The first placement is a non-clinical early years placement and the purpose is to observe young children in an early years setting to gain a better understanding of typical development. As part of an introductory module, our task is to create our own developmental norms table from birth to 7 years which we can use throughout our training. It is obviously important to understand what milestone you would expect a child to achieve at a specific age and the stages of typical development so that we may identify atypical development and apply appropriate intervention.
My placement was in the reception class of a primary school where thirty children aged 4-5 years are supported by a teacher and one teaching assistant. The placement was four days over a four-week period which allows time to reflect on our observations and learning.
The image included here was from my first day when the children were engaged in an activity drawing dinosaurs. Previously, in their phonics session they practiced producing the /d/ sound and learnt how to write the letter ‘d’. We were encouraged to join in the activity and it was a lovely opportunity to listen to the group.
My early years placement assignment allowed me to focus on one child and observe her expressive language in detail, such as ‘can link phrases with the conjunction and’ a then give a summary of my observation findings and to pose interpretations of these observations. This allowed me to then write a reflective summary. I observed this child engaging in various activities including imaginary play, a phonics session and literacy session. I really enjoyed being able to link the theory of child development to my own observations. It wasn’t all plain sailing: on my first observation I arrived with my fancy new notebook to a session where the children were making paper mache models of their homes. By the end I had abandoned my note-taking as after requests to ‘help’ the pages were messy and I was reminded how fun it is talking to the children about what they were doing (and picking the glue off your fingers afterwards!)
This was a really valuable experience and I’m particularly grateful to the class teacher and the foundation stage leader for taking time our of their busy schedules to spend time with me. Returning to university hasn't been without difficulties and I have had a bit of a wobble (am I doing the right thing?) but I shall talk more about this in my next blog. I’m looking forward to my next placement which starts next month. This is a clinical placement working with a speech and language therapist working across a number of schools.