SLCN Friendships and Summer Holidays 

Play is a very important element of learning for children. Through play, children naturally grasp essential social and emotional skills which then set the foundations for the majority of their future development. Studies prove the significant positive benefits an environment promoting instinctive curiosity has on the development of the brain especially in the early years. 

A large part of the process includes the interactions children have with others. Through engaging with people close to them, children learn vital social skills that help them navigate through future social situations. Considering the great amount of life events that include the need for these skills it is vital that they are promoted as soon as possible. 


Encountering Communication Obstacles 

Moving through pre-school to school age, children can no longer rely on just physical communication and are pushed to start developing their verbal communication. This big step includes skills such as listening; understanding narratives; understanding their conversation partner’s language; and sequencing appropriate responses including gestures and intonation. The list is not excusive and has many more nuances that some children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). 

As more experience is gained, children begin to identify what is considered ‘normal’ or expected responses and anything that is different is met with confusion or discomfort. Experiencing negative attitudes towards their communication attempts repeatedly often leads to children with SLCN withdrawing themselves from social situations or reacting aggressively to cope. 


Importance of Friendships 

Social isolation is something that is commonly encountered by children with SLCN and can have long terms impacts. By facing obstacles in grasping the necessary skills, they find it difficult to create meaningful relationships with their peers and navigate through conflicts. Children sometimes choose to interact exclusively with adults instead increasing the understanding gap between their peers. 

Friendships encourage children to have a more positive outlook on school, learning and life. As well as learning fundamental social skills, children develop emotional intelligence, learning how to manage their feelings. This then helps them adjust better to future environments such as workplaces. 

A sense of belonging is another important aspect of friendships. By spending time and communicating in a safe setting, children can feel a sense of being special and needed. The comfortable relation reduces stress, and enables a space to share intimate thoughts and ask for advice or discuss opinions without judgement. 


Summer Holidays and Summer Loss 

The absence of the routine of school, often leaves children who struggle to make friends lonely during school holidays. Many complain that the holidays get boring very quickly with no-one to engage with regularly, and parents the extra stress of being the only source of entertainment while managing daily responsibilities. 

Studies confirm that there is a setback of skills gained in school over the holidays referred to as the ‘Summer Learning Loss’. The extent differs from child to child, but there is the increased worry that children with SLCN can regress with their social skills and self-esteem. Although there are activities that run over the period, mingling with strangers in an unknown environment is likely to be too stressful to be beneficial for children who struggle to communicate. Many parents express their disappointment with the lack of suitable Special Educational Needs (SEN) clubs they can turn to for support. 


Come along to our Summer Activities 

We at SLCo understand these difficulties and work with families to provide support to best suit their needs.  

We run summer programmes and activities in Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow to continue supporting families who need it. Children who already attend our clubs can enjoy seeing familiar faces throughout the holidays and new members can enjoy staying social in a relaxed environment designed for children with SEN. 

For more information on what we have planned please call 01382 202644, email Or speak to your local club leaders. 

Follow us on social media for updates. 


Read more about this topic: 

Learning through play 

The loneliness of language difficulties

The Importance of Friendship for School-Age Children

Friendship and Mental Health  

‘Mingling together’: promoting the social inclusion of disabled children and young people during the school holidays 

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