Saturday, 3 March 2018

Improving Vocabulary in EYFS

If we want to close the vocabulary and attainment gap that already exists by the age of 3, we need to seriously reconsider our practice. Some children will require a more targeted approach for speech and language development but targeted doesn't have to mean boring. However a huge percentage of supporting behaviour and communication is done by following what a child is interested in and adapting the learning there and then to their specific level of need. When you get down at their level and you follow a child’s lead, you can really enhance their vocabulary / enrich their learning.

Here is a scenario where a great opportunity to develop speech and vocabulary is missed:
A little girl comes into the nursery and finds her name for self-registration (or rather the picture next to her name. She’s only just turned 3.) Her picture is a kite, which just so happens to be the school emblem so we all have one on our t-shirts. 
The EYP says “look what you’ve got! It’s the same as mine. I have one on my t-shirt.” All credit to the EYP, she didn’t ask “what is it?” The staff know I dislike boring test questions. But I was curious, so I asked the girl and of course she didn’t know. Because not once during her self-registration had she heard from her mum, or the EYP “it’s a kite. You’ve got a kite. I’ve got a kite too. It flies in the sky when it’s windy.”

Yes, the EYP was interacting with the child, getting down at her level and even following her interest. But the child left that interaction with no more vocabulary than when she came in.

These tips would be a good starting point:
  • With every nursery activity (such as circle time) consider... is every child benefitting from this activity? Or is it the same chatty few that are participating every time? What changes could be made to ensure every child is included? This might mean smaller groups, shorter time in a circle or adapting your language and expectation according to their need.
  • Does every child start with a clean slate every day? Or does your staff use langauge such as "I hope we are going to have a better day than yesterday."
  • If a child is "misbehaving" (also known as 'has not received the memo of what your expectations are for the day.') was the activity chosen and led by them...or you?
  • If a child is "misbehaving," do they actually understand what is expected of them? Or do you need to support that understanding by using visuals, gestures or simplifying the instruction?
Read the full article here

Child Led Learning & Speech & Language

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