In schools, language underpins progress, impacts on attainment throughout primary and secondary years, affects self-esteem and behaviour and plays a huge role in a child’s future life chances. Children don’t learn to talk by accident – they need adults to nurture and support their language and communication. The more adults know and understand about language and how it develops, the easier it is for them to help children improve their talking, understanding and listening skills.(The Communication Trust 2018)
It may seem an obvious thing to say, but one of the best things we can do with young children is to have interesting and enjoyable conversations with them. What this means is that as we go about our activities, whether at home or out and about, we should make a special effort to answer children’s questions, point out things that interest us, involve children in helping and planning what to do next – whether that’s putting out things to play, tidying up, where to visit or whatever. When reading a book with children, make a special effort to read slowly, with lots of fun and expression. Don’t worry about stopping if the children ask you questions. Encourage them to join in with the sounds and rhythms of the story. We should also think carefully about how we speak to children – do we spend too much of the day issuing commands: ‘do this’, ‘do that’? – (Michael Rosen – Children’s Laureate).