Interact with children to meet individual language and communication needs

Qualification: NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Educator
Unit: Unit 3.5: Develop emergent literacy skills of children
Learning outcome: Be able to support children’s language and communication needs
Assessment criteria: Interact with children to meet individual language and communication needs

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Early Years practitioners interact with children in order to meet their individual language and communication needs, taking into account each child’s stage of development as well as their social and cultural background.

There are several ways that practitioners may do this.

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Practitioners should encourage conversations with children that are adapted to the level of understanding they have and make sure that dialogue is two-way. It is also useful to utilise multiple forms of communication, such as pairing stories with visuals, body language, facial expressions or gestures and provide a variety of learning opportunities, from storytelling and singing to play-based activities or games.

Guiding children’s learning through scaffolding techniques that provide the appropriate level of challenge for each individual child is a skill that practitioners gain with experience. The interests of each child should also be considered to encourage participation.

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Mirroring is a technique whereby a practitioner will mimic the body language and facial expressions of a child. This can help them to understand feelings and emotions and can promote engagement.

Questions can be a good way to encourage interaction from a child. When using questioning techniques, it is important that you maintain eye contact and give them plenty of time to respond as they process the information you have given them.

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Recasting and expansion techniques may also be used to model the correct use of language.

Recasting is a way of responding to a child that helps them to develop and extend their language. It involves repeating the same information as the child but in different words. For example, if a child says, “I did’d that” an adult can recast this as “Yes, you did that. Well done!”. This provides the opportunity for children to pick up new vocabulary and learn how to form sentences correctly without being corrected directly, which can be more effective in fostering positive attitudes towards language learning. By providing supportive feedback, adults are also modelling good communication and offering encouragement for continued exploration of the language.

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Expansion techniques are methods used in language development with children that involve repeating or expanding upon a child’s statement. This helps them to explore their ideas further and builds on their existing knowledge. Expansion techniques can include:

  • Repeating the child’s utterance but adding more information, for example ‘yes, you ate your dinner’;
  • Adding a detail to their sentence, for example ‘it was delicious pizza’;
  • Modeling by using expanded phrases such as ‘you said that the ball was yellow’ instead of just repeating the word ‘yellow’;
  • Asking questions which provide clarification or extend what the child has said, such as ‘did you have ice cream too?
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