When working in a school, especially pre-school or primary school, it is important for us to identify and provide effective support and extend the speech, language and communication development for children during the early years (Burnham and Baker, 2011). This is so that they get the best chance to develop these skills and avoid struggle later in life.
There are a number of ways in which adults can effectively support and extend speech, language and communication development in children during early years. Firstly, it is important for us to adapt our language according to the child’s age, needs and abilities. Some children who have English as a second language may require us to point to objects (www.earlylearningconsultancy.co.uk). For example, when we are speaking to babies or toddlers, we would simplify the sentences for them to understand, whereas the older the children we can begin to use harder sentences. For example, when handing out cookies, to a child who is 1 or 2 years of age we may hold out a cookie and say the word, whereas to an older children we would say “Would you like a cookie?”.
Secondly; we must give children the time and opportunity to communicate. It is important to give children time to think about what has been said to them and if they don’t answer straight away we must be patient and not answer for them (www.earlylearningconsultancy.co.uk). Some children may require us to sounds them out but then we must get them to copy and blend the sounds together whilst giving them time to process what we are telling them.
As mentioned in (www.foundationyears.org.uk), other ways we can effectively support children and extend their speech, language and communicate may include: using simple repetitive language for familiar activities, comment on what children are doing in their play session, and we must try to expand what they say by adding a few words ourselves. For example a child might shout “Bus!” we should reply “That’s right, it’s a big, red bus.”
Some children may find using visual clues and reminders very useful in helping them follow routine and learn new work and concepts (www.foundationyears.org.uk). We can use pictures of the children themselves doing the activities, to represent different activities in the say as a visual timetable. These pictures can also be used to help children to choose activities.
As mentioned in (www.earlylearningconsultancy.co.uk), we can also use modelling language which helps support children when words don’t sound clear. This includes giving them praise for trying them sating the word back to them, so if a child says ‘tar’ we can smile and say ‘yes, car, clever boy’.
Interacting can also be playing games, reading and singing songs. Getting children engaged in books from an early age can help with their reading and writing skills and can extend their language skills and vocabulary (www.earlylearningconsultancy.co.uk). Singing simple songs and nursery rhymes develop children’s attention and listening skills and their awareness of rhymes and the word patterns.
As mentioned in (www.earlylearningconsultancy.co.uk), play and activity encourage children to communicate and practise their communication skills as they will need to communicate with their playmates and others so it creates a situation where they can practice and develop their speech, language and communication skills.