Language promotion in the Early Years

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By Phoebe Doyleeducational writer

A crucial role of an early years practitioner is to boost communication skills. A communication expert gives take on how best to utilise sessions.

Child and adult

Children enter Early Years settings with a diverse range of language skills. As practitioners, we need to inspire all children to reach their potential in this most vital of skills.

‘In Early Years settings, there are many ways in which practitioners can support a child’s speech, language and communication development,’ says Kate Freeman from the children’s communication charity I CAN (www.ican.org.uk).

Kate believes it’s not a case of necessarily devising specific activities for language promotion, more that good Early Years practitioners should use everyday routines to support development. ‘Mealtimes or snack times, tidying up, putting coats on for outside play all lend themselves as communication development opportunities,’ she urges.

Kate says that the key is remembering some basics about how to communicate best, these include:
  • Responding to what children say – this shows you’re listening
  • Giving clear information in short chunks
  • Getting down to a child’s level and saying their name before speaking
  • Using simple repetitive language
  • Building on what the child says
  • Being expressive when you talk
  • Demonstrating, through modelling, rather than criticising what they’ve said
  • Giving children time to respond, allow them some ‘pause for thought’
  • Avoiding too many questions, this may lead to them feeling over-whelmed
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