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  • Writer's picturePatricia Mezu LL.M, M.Ed., AMI Montessori Diploma

Build Better Language Experiences

How is June 2024 for you as a professional early years expert? 

It is already the end of the academic year and I am aware that some schools are getting ready to shut down for the long summer break. Such a busy time!

Anecdote FYI

I remember a time when I was the head of a kindergarten with over 450 children.

The end of the academic year was particularly busy as I had to edit all the reports before they were released. Quite challenging, but I did it each term (of 3) for over three years. 

Sometimes we can do hard things and when we do them, we should stop, do a happy dance and celebrate. It matters.

Building a Strong Foundation for Language in Preschools

We all know the pivotal importance language plays in the development of children from birth onwards.

Over time children "learn to talk” and then “talk to learn”.

Both parents and educators have a role to play when it comes to this transition. 

Children benefit from exposure to rich language that will encourage them to learn and think. When children build strong language skills they also develop a necessary foundation for later success in literacy. 

It is safe to say that language and literacy go hand-in-hand. For what a child learns or understands in language, he/she will later understand it by reading and then writing. It is a process.

For language development, remember:

“A child’s best learning happens during natural, everyday interactionswith sophisticated conversation partners”

This need not be complicated. It can be discussions:-

  • At home

  • In the classroom

  • In the playground

  • During snack time

  • On nature walks 

  • With extended family members

But note - the quantity and quality of these conversations matter. A study by Hart & Risley 1995 showed that children who were exposed to more words at a younger age had a huge educational advantage when they were older.

Pause for thought:

“What does language provision in my setting look like?”
“How many words (quantity) are spoken during conversations on a daily basis (on average)?” 
“What is the quality of those conversations?”
“Are children actively engaged in conversations and discussions or are they passive listeners/observers?”

Note - It is WHAT you talk about and HOW you talk about it that makes all the difference in laying the cornerstone for successful and impactful communication.

7 Ways to maximise children’s early language skills

  1. Follow the child’s lead when you can. Respond to what he/she is interested in.

  2. Encourage back and forth conversation that lasts for several turns. This could be verbal and/or non-verbal (watch out for the non-verbal cues especially with babies and infants).

  3. Give children a chance to draw on their existing knowledge and experience.

  4. Find specific times to talk throughout the day. Plan for these times. Or let it be spontaneous. Studies show that frequent adult:child conversations are associated with better language outcomes and academic success.

  5. Have discussions during - daily activities, play time, book reading, on-the-go or during transitions.

  6. Expand the child’s message - add words to help their language grow.

  7. Build daily vocabulary - one can be deliberate with building vocabulary. For example integrating vocabulary linked to a theme. Or using specific words to name and label objects and actions. 

I wish you all the best as summer inches closer. 

Let me know what professional development plans you have for June, or let me know your summer plans. 

Or if you have additional practice when building language and literacy., please share. 

Remember I read all my emails!

Patricia Mezu M.A.Ed. |

P.S. Work with me to start off the next academic year with excellence: ​Services | PRMINDS How-to Series​

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