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South African Journal of Communication Disorders

On-line version ISSN 2225-4765
Print version ISSN 0379-8046


ABDOOLA, Shabnam S.; MOSCA, Renata  and  PILLAY, Bhavani S.. Responsive communication coaching for early childhood practitioners in underserved South African contexts: Clinical perspectives. S. Afr. J. Commun. Disord. [online]. 2019, vol.66, n.1, pp.1-7. ISSN 2225-4765.

Children spend longer hours with early childhood development (ECD) practitioners who are well-placed to facilitate critical early language development. ECD classrooms include a growing number of children at risk for communication delays. Greater collaboration between speech-language therapists (SLTs) and ECD practitioners is needed. Research highlights that responsivity coaching improves communication development. Therefore, responsive communication coaching was identified as a possible approach to early communication development within the classroom. This clinical perspective serves as a reflection on the programme by examining ECD practitioners' perceptions thereof. Responsive communication coaching was identified as a means to improve practitioner-student collaboration within classrooms. This reflection aimed to describe ECD practitioners' perceptions of responsive communication coaching implemented by student SLTs. Early childhood development practitioners were recruited from three sites in low to middle socio-economic settings, where most children were English additional language learners. Coaching was presented to 15 practitioners via 16 sessions conducted by student SLTs under supervision. Practitioners completed a custom-designed survey regarding their skill development and experiences of the coaching. All practitioners expressed benefit from coaching. Half of the practitioners (50%) rated coaching as very helpful, while 37% perceived it as helpful. The remaining practitioners (13%), based at the special needs preschool, perceived coaching as quite helpful. Thematic analysis identified the following benefits: enhanced interaction, improvements in children's communication and the use of responsive communication strategies. Speech-language therapists need to collaborate with and support ECD practitioners in novel ways. The exploratory findings suggest that ECD practitioners benefit from SLT student-led responsive communication coaching sessions.

Keywords : Early childhood development; responsive communication coaching; inter-professional collaboration; participation; teamwork.

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