Communication & Language
How does Communication and Language develop?
Communication and Language develops through interactions with others, through an exploration of language and by developing listening and attention skills.
Children’s back-and-forth interactions from an early age form the foundations for language and mental development.
The number and quality of the conversations they have with adults and other children throughout the day in a language-rich environment is crucial. By commenting on what children are doing or interested in and echoing back what they say with new vocabulary added, you will build children’s language effectively.
Relationships and the role of the adults are important in maintaining good interactions with children.
Good interactions use:
- body language
- facial expressions
Taking turns and waiting for a child to respond builds confidence and independence. Maintain a conversation by being warm and attentive and adapting your language to meet the needs of individual children. If you join in with your child’s play and comment, repeat back, wonder aloud and add new words you will extend their language.
Children’s speech develops from babble, to words, to simple sentences through hundreds of hours of interactions with adults. Studies show that once babies begin to understand words their vocabulary increases quickly:
- by age 1, children recognise about 50 words
- by age 3, children recognise about 1,000 words
- by age 5, children recognise about 10,000 words
Having a large vocabulary helps children learn more. Words allow them to make sense of the world around them.
Communication and language is a EYFS prime area which means that it’s one of the important building blocks for all the other areas. If it’s not developed early it’s difficult to achieve later.
Children’s language skills are connected to their overall development and can predict their educational success. As speaking and listening develops, children build foundations for literacy, for making sense of visual and verbal signs and ultimately for reading and writing.
Create a language rich environment at home that is full of stories, rhymes, songs and play with words that are of interest to children. Children develop strong language skills when they are involved in playful, language-rich environments with opportunities to learn new words. Hands-on experiences encourage learning and provide a context for new words to be explored. For example, it’s easier for children to learn vegetable names when they are touching or tasting them.
Songs and rhymes offer fun ways to explore the sounds and patterns of words. Poems with actions and repetition help children listen to the structure of spoken language and explore new words.
Reading stories aloud and sharing books supports children to develop language and understand new concepts. Encouraging children to notice pictures and understand words, will strengthen their language skills and widen their vocabulary.
Non-fiction and high-quality texts such as story books, encourage children to make sense of the world around them using language. Encouraging talk when sharing books is an excellent way to support communication and language.
Children extend language with pretend play and acting out stories. By offering props and ideas you can deepen the learning. This may include imaginative play with small world resources such as dolls houses, farms or garages, open ended materials (those which can be used in more than one way) such as blocks or loose parts. You can encourage language development through creativity and problem solving during activities like:
- observing nature
Listening and Understanding:
Communication requires two foundation skills, listening and understanding. Children develop these by observing and reacting to others. This influences communication and talking later in life. To support early listening and understanding, consider your physical and emotional environment. Children should be able to practise listening closely, and be encouraged to focus their attention.
Songs to encourage sound and word play - because children love singing silly songs, especially involving actions, movement and laughter. Playing around with sounds can develop listening skills in a fun way, encouraging confidence with new words. Changing words in familiar songs is great fun, and children can consider the sound differences they hear.
You’ll need some of your favourite songs that have easy words to play with.
Try these examples of song word play:
- ’Polly puts the pizza in’, to the tune of ‘Polly put the kettle on’. Change the verses with different children’s names, such as:
- ‘Suzie sizzles sausages’
- ‘Ben bites biscuits bit by bit’
- ‘Carly crunches cabbages’
- ’A Hedgehog is very prickly’ - to the tune of ‘One finger, one thumb, keep moving’.
- ’A hedgehog is very prickly
- A hedgehog is very prickly,
- A hedgehog is very prickly
- He couldn’t be anything else!’
Choose a new animal, changing the describing word each time, such as ‘a crocodile is very snappy’, ‘a kitten is very fluffy’.
You can choose whichever songs you like, in line with your child’s special interests.