At Children's House we know the importance of communication and language development with young children.
If a child can express their needs and views through words or signing, it empowers them and builds their confidence and self-esteem. We recognise how important the role of the adult is in language development: staff work sensitively and thoughtfully with children to listen to them, join them in their play and share talk with them.
We make sure the team are available to have conversations with children and we recorded some of these conversations.
We noticed that some children prefer to talk to an adult, whereas others have meaningful conversations with their peers in their play.
We looked for conversation 'hotspots': places where we notice more children's talk:
recyclable materials model making
forest school area
It seems when children are using their hands and are focused with their friends, talk flows more easily.
How do we support children's talk while they play?
We tune into children - join them in their play but listen and wait.
Share their attention, see what they are interested in.
If they offer words or signs (including body language and facial expressions) we respond by repeating or copying them.
We might try to build on vocabulary: if they are pushing a car saying "Brrrrrr" we might join them, saying "Brrrrr" and then add "car".
If children are already using single words, we can extend by offering additional vocabulary: if they say "cat" we might add "white cat".
For children who are using more complex vocabulary and speaking in sentences, we use prompts and open-ended questions such as "Hmmm, I wonder what happens if I press this button?" We try not to ask too many questions and avoid closed questions (where the answer is yes or no.) Thinking aloud is a great place to start and conversations will develop from there.
Of course at the heart of this is books - sharing books and telling stories is a wonderful way to develop language. Talk about the pictures and wait for children to process the language - give them time.
Where do you notice children will share talk and start conversations most at home?
The blog is updated regularly with a range of learning from across our wonderful school. All the rich learning experiences the children have been involved in will be in their Special Books so please do borrow those regularly.