Clinical Perspective

Responsive communication coaching for early childhood practitioners in underserved South African contexts: Clinical perspectives

Shabnam S. Abdoola, Renata Mosca, Bhavani S. Pillay
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 66, No 1 | a608 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v66i1.608 | © 2019 Shabnam S. Abdoola, Renata Mosca, Bhavani S. Pillay | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 September 2018 | Published: 03 June 2019

About the author(s)

Shabnam S. Abdoola, Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Renata Mosca, Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Bhavani S. Pillay, Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

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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