In Early Years Communication is Key

The term ‘Early Intervention’ is one we often hear from pediatricians and child development specialists, especially in relation to development in the area of Communication and Language. But what does it really mean and how can parents help to identify their own child’s progress in this area?
In Early Years Communication is Key
By Jenny Mollon
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A child’s early years are often the time when any issues around communication (hearing problems or speech delay, for example) are first detected.  So what does one of the most popular Early Years curricula in the UAE (the English EYFS) define as an end goal for young children developing their Communication and Language skills? We take a look.

The EYFS Early Learning Goals – Communication and Language Development

Children listen attentively in a range of situations. They listen to stories, accurately anticipating key events and respond to what they hear with relevant comments, questions or actions. They give their attention to what others say and respond appropriately, while engaged in another activity

If you are anything like us, you might despair of this one.  Who can get their child to LISTEN, we mean really listen?  Not us that is for sure!  But those magical nursery teachers often can and listening is a key skill that your child’s teacher will be looking to observe.  Fundamental to all learning, listening must come before comprehension skills if your child is to be able to work with the information that she or he acquires.

Top tips for parents:

  • Encourage your child to listen attentively, role modelling this behaviour in your own interactions
  • Play games which require a listening cue – such as ‘Simon Says’

How Nursery can help:

  • Choose age appropriate and engaging story books, which contain repeated refrains or rhymes

 

Children follow instructions involving several ideas or actions. They answer ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions about their experiences and in response to stories or events

Whilst we are all for child initiated learning, being able to follow staged instructions is important not only for learning but for keeping your child healthy and safe at nursery and at home.  Asking how and why requires internal consideration, the making of hypotheses, inquisitiveness and the confidence to request this information from adults and peers alike.

Top tips for parents:

  • If your give your child a task, ask your child to think through the steps they will need to take to complete it and to explain them to you (how and why)
  • When reading stories to your child, ask them to engage by predicting what might happen next or explaining the events and actions of the characters

How Nursery can help:

  • Provide space for imaginative role play, which adults initiate and/or engage with

 

Children express themselves effectively, showing awareness of listeners’ needs. They use past, present and future forms accurately when talking about events that have happened or are to happen in the future. They develop their own narratives and explanations by connecting ideas or events

Closely linked with interpersonal skills, the ability to express oneself effectively whilst taking into account the needs of others is a vital step towards truly collaborative communication.  A sign of growing maturity, this goal is important for future school readiness.

When it comes to future forms of language, this might sound complicated for parents looking at their two year old (who likely still struggles to understand the concept of yesterday, today and tomorrow). 

However, parents will be amazed at how quickly children can acquire this concept using stories, photos and the relaying of their own experiences.  Being able to predict and reflect is important in many ways, not least when describing their own wants, needs and ideas, especially when a child is away from their primary carer.  

Top tips for parents:

  • Role model the use of language for negotiating – use expressions like ‘Would it be alright if I…?’
  • Value your child’s contributions to conversations and allow them to direct conversation at times

How Nursery can help:

  • Set up collaborative tasks and require child to ‘run’ the activity with minimal adult intervention

 

We asked Julie Dean, Centre Director of the Babilou branch on the Palm Jumeirah for her views on the development of communication and language in the early years.

"Children learn on average 7-10 new words per day. It is important that we work with parents closely and share new vocabulary and topics we are introducing both in English and French to support children communication and language development both at nursery and at home. By the age of 3 a child's brain has grown to 80% of the adult sized brain. Children's foundation years are vitally important to prepare them for their future learning"

If you feel that your child is not approaching or achieving these goals, talk to your Nursery Teacher or Peadiatrician.  The answer may be as simple as a little more focus at home or nursery, or it may be that your child requires help from a specialist. 

Whatever is needed, it is important that parents remember that a child who receives individually tailored, high quality help before the age of 5 is one that is far more likely to overcome any issues than intervention is left until a later stage. 

The Guides

Start > How to Assess a Nursery, and Your Child
Back > Personal Social and Emotional Development
Now > Communication and Language Development
Next > Physical Development

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