How We Support Early Communication and Language
One of the most important skills for our children centre around communication and language. In this blog post, Ruhida from McKee Room talks through some of the strategies we use with our early speakers who might need some extra nurture.
All children have different ways of communicating. This plays a vital part in their learning and development. Using different forms of communication will help children to express their needs and/or their interests and help them to build some special relationships with adults and begin to make some friends at the setting.
Communication is not just using words. For children, there are many ways they communicate. It can be through body language, for example using their hands/body or facial expressions to display their feelings such as happiness or curiosity. They may like to point at pictures of actions or activities they would like to do. It is important for practitioners to understand how a child communicates in order to help them learn and feel like they are being understood.
At Rebecca Cheetham we have programmes and activities dedicated to helping children to communicate using their words or pictures or sign language. I have focused on an activity called ‘Box Clever’ for the 2 year olds in our setting. The idea of this activity is to build children’s confidence in communicating and helping children to developing a bigger vocabulary around a theme, starting off by using single words. We also do this in smaller groups which helps children feel more confident if they are reluctant speakers.
In ‘Box Clever’ we have no more than 2-3 children at a time and the session runs for 15 minutes. Having fewer children allows the practitioner to give equal amounts of their attention to the children. This helps the children to make some progress and also concentrate during the sessions.
Throughout the week we focus on one theme, for example, a farm. We start the session off by naming a few animals i.e. a cow, a sheep, a pig. The practitioner will name and ask children to repeat. Some children may not feel comfortable with speaking and this is okay. They may enjoy watching for the first few sessions or like to hold onto an animal they like. It is important to go at the children’s pace. Some children may enjoy nursery rhymes or story books with simple wording and clear pictures, so during the session we will sing nursery rhymes or books related to the theme. Depending on the children’s readiness, the practitioner can move on to surrounding of the theme and colours they can see. This will help widen their vocabulary. When children start becoming confident in using single words and copying some expressions or phrases, they may be able to move on to using some simple sentences. Some children may be able to pick this up from the practitioner from previous sessions.
The keys to helping children develop and make improvements are:
- Taking everything at the children’s pace
- Being CONSISTENT
- Make it fun and exciting
- Recapping and repeating some sessions
- Praising and giving rewards (Stickers/stamps)
- Always talk to your child
Remember, every child has different ways of communicating. You may learn a thing or two from the children!