Early years staff & indeed childminders, play a key role in encouraging and supporting language acquisition as well as identifying any potential difficulties children may be experiencing.
Children often learn best by observing and copying adult behaviour and Communication & Language is crucial to a child’s overall development. Being able to speak clearly, process speech sounds, understand others, to express ideas and interact with others – are fundamental building blocks for a child’s development. Research suggests that good communication, language and literacy at a young age have the highest correlation with outcomes at school. So here we have Five brilliant ways to support children’s communication & language by our expert and award-winning childminder, Chloe Webster.
When supporting children’s speech and language, the best thing we can provide them with is time, and space for them to practice and develop their speech sounds. The more we rush or try to speak for the child/children, the less confident they will feel in articulating their needs/feelings and this will further impact their speech and language development.
2. Provide a commentary
Whilst we don’t want to speak for or rush children, as adults we can facilitate speech and language by providing a commentary for the children as they play or discuss illustrations as we read stories together, the more children hear words, and a variety of words they are exposed to, the faster they will generally acquire language and develop a broader vocabulary. We don’t need to talk at the children as they play as this can inhibit the flow of child-led play and learning, instead, we can talk to colleagues and other children about what is going on, the type of play on display, the routines, any language is relevant, and for the youngest children.
Talking to and providing a commentary during play and routines, is the most beneficial way for even our youngest children/babies to experience and acquire the speech sounds they need to develop language.
3. The ‘Add one word’ rule
As children are learning and developing language, we can always be doing more as practitioners to develop them further and extend the knowledge and vocabulary they already have and one of the simplest ways we can do this is to ‘add one word’ to a comment/phrase the child says as they are playing; not only does this indicate to them that you are listening and engaged in their play but it also is an unintrusive way of developing their language and allowing the play and the conversation to continue.
For children developing language, it can sometimes be difficult to understand some words/phrases as they are developing and so repeating the word/phrase back to the child not only clarifies your understanding of what they have just said, but also enables them to hear/experience the correct pronunciation of certain words each time it is said to them. Children can get frustrated when we can’t understand them and so rather than asking ‘What did you say?’ or attempting to answer them based on what you think they said, it’s much more beneficial to repeat what they have said and allow them to correct you if you have misheard.
5. Slow and Steady
It’s essential to remember that all children develop language at different ages and stages and whilst one may be an early talker and develop language quickly, this just may not be the case for a child of the same age and so we must try not to compare children and their language, nor should we talk for them, instead we should give children the time and space to develop language in their own time and role-model language and conversation skills throughout our days and routines.
About the Author
Chloe is a board Trustee at Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) and an OFSTED registered childminder. Chloe has 8 years of experience post-qualifying, and came from a nursery background before becoming a home-based childcarer at Pebbles Childcare. Chloe is a successful writer, contributing to Nursery World, EYE, Nursery Management Today and ABC magazine, as well as managing the Pebbles Childcare Blog.
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