How To: Ways to Talk to Early Years Children
Did you know?
Learning how to properly communicate is vital for the children in our settings. Processing speech sounds, expressing ideas and being able to understand the ideas of others are fundamental skills which build a strong foundation for our children’s overall development.
Communicating clearly with our early years is the first step in the journey of developing those important skills. If a practitioner identifies any concerns over a child’s language development, it is essential to raise these with families straight away so they can get the right level of support as early as possible.
Tips to make sure you’re communicating as well as you can with your children:
- Get down to the child’s level.
- Make sure you have the child’s attention and are making eye contact.
- Speak clearly and calmly.
- Use age-appropriate language, but recognise opportunities to teach new words by incorporating them in conversation.
- Repeat or model what the child has said, to ensure you understand what they are saying.
- Use clear gestures, tone of voice and facial expressions.
- Listen carefully!
- Be patient when children are speaking – it can take children up to 30 seconds sometimes to hear what is said, absorb the information and then respond.
- Use open (not closed) questions effectively – enough to encourage children to elaborate on what they have said, but making sure not to over-question them.
Early years practitioners should make sure there are ample opportunities for children to practice listening and speaking throughout their day, whether through conversations or practical activities.
These can include:
- Reading and talking about stories.
- Singing songs or nursery rhymes.
- Description and guessing games.
- Role-playing games.
- Activities with puppets.
- Activities that encourage discussions, such as problem-solving or sharing feelings.
The EYFS states that, for children whose first language is not English, practitioners must take reasonable steps to support them using their home language in play and learning, as well as ensuring that they have sufficient opportunities to learn and develop their English skills.
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