Children’s language development and overall well-being

Language and Wellbeing

An important piece of research into language development and how it can be used as an indicator of a child’s well-being, was published recently, and we have been looking at its implications for early years practice.

The report highlights the centrality of language development for the overall development of a child (in the wider social, emotional, and cognitive contexts). In the words of its authors:

Early language acquisition impacts on all aspects of young children’s non-physical development. It contributes to their ability to manage emotions and communicate feelings, to establish and maintain relationships, to think symbolically, and to learn to read and write.

Implications for Early Years practice

  • Child language development should be formally monitored between age two and five, so that those not making good progress are offered additional support.
  • Children’s language development should be viewed as a public health wellbeing indicator, rather than just as an individual or ‘clinical’ concern.
  • Policies and practices must also address factors affecting the quality of the home learning environment.
  • Increasing family access to enriching resources, such as books, toys and educational experiences, is unlikely to be sufficient.
  • Strategies should also support the quality of parent–child interaction, including the quality of conversations parents have with their children.
  • Strategies should start early, certainly before children enter preschool and preferably before children are 2 years old.
  • Strategies should not end in preschool but continue throughout a child’s education, to ensure that the benefits of enriching early experiences are sustained.

Examples of how we support language development at Alphablocks Nursery School

  • We place primary importance on communicating as clearly as possible with “own words”, building on the non-verbal cues that children use to express themselves (this is supported by the use of Makaton and other sign language methodologies);
  • We extend learning and try to bring as much of it into the home environment as possible – through face to face, and electronic communication between parents and teachers (we use specialist early years software that tracks children’s progress and lets both parents and teachers leave comments, exchange ideas and upload photos, videos, and documentation);
  • Positive and enabling attitudes are always promoted – one should never “correct” a child’s language usage, and never tell children they are “wrong” – making mistakes is part of learning;
  • For instance, if a child says “I heard a carrot sing” (meaning a parrot) then the early years educator’s response would be along the lines of “Carrot sounds a lot like parrot – did you hear a parrot sing?”
  • We have specific learning projects, which make language learning fun and natural for children, such as (for example) our Bringing Stories to Life learning projects.

You can read or download the full report here.

Ten books to read with your little ones this summer

A. L. Sestier chooses some of the best children’s books to consider for this Summer Term, as an invited guest author. A. L. Sestier is the author of the Peter Perseus series, and can be found on www.annasestier.com, Instagram (a.l.sestier), and Twitter (@ALSestier).

Finding new books to read with your little one can be a challenge. There are so many books out there and it’s difficult to choose a story that will really capture your child’s imagination. As an author and illustrator, I am always on the lookout for interesting reads partnered with colourful and timeless illustrations. I have put together a list of ten books, which are a mixture of new and upcoming releases, that pair sweet and clever stories with beautiful, elegant pictures.

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Bringing Stories to Life

We are continuing with our long-term project of ‘Bringing Stories to Life’: children are capable of experiencing stories immersively, giving them an opportunity to experiment and see things from different perspectives.

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We have worked on The Enormous Turnip story in the first half of this Spring term. The children enjoyed exploring various different vegetables on our nature table and acting out their unique versions of the story. Our key learning aims in choosing this story were to teach co-operation and working as a team, as well as introducing the mathematical language for size.

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Alphablocks Nursery School chosen as Client of the Month by A&L

We are pleased to announce that our Barnet / Enfield nursery school has been selected as the Client of the Month for September 2016 by A&L.

Among various nurseries in Cockfosters, Enfield, Barnet, Potters Bar and the surrounding areas, Alphablocks Nursery School is unique in its unwavering commitment to personalized learning and its hybrid approach in early education, combining Montessori, Reggio Emilia, High Scope, and Forest Schools. You can read the full interview here.

“We’re Going on a Bear Hunt”: how our little storytellers experience stories

By the age of three our children get to be the most wonderful storytellers. They engage in so-called “open ended” activities inspired by the stories we share with them. They learn how to use story props, how to pretend that story-related objects are integrated with their very own experiences. They take roles in their play and are completely immersed in stories, energised and fascinated by them. They become creators by changing parts of the story and making new versions. This is what “active learning” is all about, and it’s learning at its best.

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