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There are many
strategies practitioners can incorporate into practice, to provide support and
provision effectively. For instance, story sacks, a strategy developed by Neil
Griffiths. Story sacks are large cloth bags containing a children’s book and
supporting props such as toys, CDs, and a non-fiction book.

Story sacks
allow children to work together in groups and provides opportunities to develop
their skills in turn taking, listening, and speaking. Story sacks are
particularly effective for EAL children as props such as pictures, CDs, and
dual language books support understanding. Graf (2011) states that these
resources play a key role in supporting an EAL child because language
development takes place alongside their developing first language and their
understanding of the world. Providing contextual information provided in story
sacks benefits a child with EAL in grasping new information and language.

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Story sacks
are beneficial in encouraging parental involvement and building parent
partnerships as practitioners can send story sacks home for parents and
children to use. This is effective as speaking and listening skills is being
supported at home and possibly improving the parents’ literacy skills as children
and families can work together in understanding how literacy works. (Barron et
al., 2002).

However, it
can be argued that the guidance and support received by children from parents
with the use of story sacks is not applicable to all. Bernstein suggested that
there are different types of language use – elaborated and restricted, and made
a link between lower social classes and lower levels of language ability. This
suggests that story sacks may not be as effective for lower socio-economic
families as the language requirements of early years’ settings may not
particularly match well with the uses of language experienced in their home
learning environment.

Makaton is a
signing system that supports spoken language with associated visual signs and symbols
that is widely used with children to communicate (Beckley et al., 2009). Makaton
can support all children but particularly EAL children and those with learning disabilities
such as those with autism as Makaton provides a multi-sensory approach to communication
and helps with understanding and expressions as simple actions can convey
meanings (Grant and Ramcharan, 2010). This is supported by a study conducted by
Ford (2006) who found that babies using signing understood more words, had a greater
vocabulary and there was an increase in communication and eye contact (Mistry
et al., 2013).

However, integrating
Makaton into a setting can be difficult as staff need to be trained to
understand and use the system. A study in 2005 suggests that there are some
issues concerning training such as the cost of training. Some schools could not
afford to pay Makaton’s fees to train all staff, resulting in a small number of
trained staff. This affected the school as trained staff were expected to train
others or in some cases, staff would pick up signs, resulting in chaos as there
was some confusion for children and families.  Some schools are reluctant in spending money in
training as Makaton may not be widely used, thus negatively affecting children’s
inclusion in mainstream schools. 

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