Blog home
The Blog

Fresh Ideas and Inspiration for education

Early Years Communication – Your guide to developing Early Language Skills: Speaking (part 3)

We have worked with the communication charity I CAN to develop this guide. Speaking is often confused with other aspects of communication and language. Speaking is the way that someone communicates their ideas, requests and makes observations orally. It is described in the Early Years Foundation Stage profile as ELG 03.

Posted on Tuesday 03rd April 2018

The series covers the following areas:

Reasons to Talk

Early years communication

When Learning to Communicate, children need someone to talk to and something to talk about. Having a shared interest helps focus the communication around the item being discussed and allows whoever is involved to know what is being discussed.  It provides opportunities for new vocabulary development and a chance to use existing vocabulary in a shared context.

Take the opportunity to find out about the child that you are working with by listening to what they are saying about the objects in front of them. Don’t be afraid of silence, often children will communicate more when they have a space to fill than if they are asked direct questions. Playing alongside them shows that you are interested in what they are doing and ready to hear what they are going to say.


Places to Talk

The environment that children are in affects what it is they are likely to say and also the mood and emotions created by that environment.  Calm environments are great for sharing books or having close conversations.  Exciting environments provide plenty to talk about in a more animated way.

The Box of Bones and the Box of Fairies are two wonderful boxes packed full of ideas for sharing. Both developed by TTS and Alistair Bryce-Clegg. Alistair has a wonderful and unique flair for understanding children’s interest and how to motivate them. Try reflecting on what you would do if you found a giant egg or how you would make tiny jam tarts and letters for fairies. Imagine following fairy footprints to a woodland scene complete with a camp fire and a table set for tea. Picture the children’s faces as they dig up a huge bone, possibly from a T-Rex! There’s so much potential for rich language and mark making.

Being together with a child in a space that they have created or decided to move to shows that you are interested and ready to listen to them.  Make sure that the child is happy with you joining them, by asking ‘Can I sit here too?’  Remember to use comments as well as questions when you are sitting together in a special place.


Cosy Crate seating area

Meet our specialist Kate Freeman: Kate Freeman has helped us to develop this guide. She is a lead I CAN Communication Advisor, specialising in early year’s speech and language development (from birth to five). Kate is a qualified Speech and Language Therapist with over twenty years’ experience in the field of paediatrics. She carries out training courses for teachers, SENCOs, speech and language therapists and a wealth of other professionals and parents as part of I CAN’s programmes.