Nurture, Cherish, Succeed

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Nurture, Cherish, Succeed

Nurture, Cherish, Succeed

  1. About Us
  2. EYFS
  3. EYFS Areas of Learning
  4. Communication and language

Communication and language


Communication and Language

Communication and Language is a Prime Area of Learning, based on the central importance of communication skills for all learning and development. 

‘The development of children’s spoken language underpins all seven areas of learning and development. Children’s back-and-forth interactions from an early age form the foundations for language and cognitive development. The number and quality of the conversations they have with adults and peers throughout the day in a language-rich environment is crucial. By commenting on what children are interested in or doing, and echoing back what they say with new vocabulary added, practitioners will build children's language effectively. Reading frequently to children, and engaging them actively in stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems, and then providing them with extensive opportunities to use and embed new words in a range of contexts, will give children the opportunity to thrive. Through conversation, story-telling and role play, where children share their ideas with support and modelling from their teacher, and sensitive questioning that invites them to elaborate, children become comfortable using a rich range of vocabulary and language structures.’



3 and 4-year-olds will be learning to:


  • Enjoy listening to longer stories and can remember much of what happens.
  • Pay attention to more than one thing at a time, which can be difficult.
  • Use a wider range of vocabulary.
  • Understand a question or instruction that has two parts, such as: “Get your coat and wait at the door”.
  • Understand ‘why’ questions, like: “Why do you think the caterpillar got so fat?”
  • Sing a large repertoire of songs.
  • Know many rhymes, be able to talk about familiar books, and be able to tell a long story.
  • Develop their communication but may continue to have problems with irregular tenses and plurals, such as ‘runned’ for ‘ran’, ‘swimmed’ for ‘swam’.
  • Develop their pronunciation but may have problems saying: some sounds: r, j, th, ch, and sh, multi-syllabic words such as ‘pterodactyl’, ‘planetarium’ or ‘hippopotamus’.
  • Use longer sentences of four to six words.
  • Be able to express a point of view and to debate when they disagree with an adult or a friend, using words as well as actions.
  • Start a conversation with an adult or a friend and continue it for many turns.
  • Use talk to organise themselves and their play: “Let’s go on a bus... you sit there... I’ll be the driver.”


Children in reception will be learning to: 


  • Understand how to listen carefully and why listening is important.
  • Learn new vocabulary.
  • Use new vocabulary through the day.
  • Ask questions to find out more and to check they understand what has been said to them.
  • Articulate their ideas and thoughts in well-formed sentences.
  • Connect one idea or action to another using a range of connectives.
  • Describe events in some detail.
  • Use talk to help work out problems and organise thinking and activities, and to explain how things work and why they might happen.
  • Develop social phrases.
  • Engage in storytimes. 
  • Listen to and talk about stories to build familiarity and understanding.
  • Retell the story, once they have developed a deep familiarity with the text, some as exact repetition and some in their own words.
  • Use new vocabulary in different contexts.
  • Listen carefully to rhymes and songs, paying attention to how they sound.
  • Learn rhymes, poems and songs.
  • Engage in non-fiction books.
  • Listen to and talk about selected non-fiction to develop a deep familiarity with new knowledge and vocabulary.


ELG: Listening, Attention and Understanding

Children at the expected level of development will:

- Listen attentively and respond to what they hear with relevant questions, comments and actions when being read to and during whole class discussions and small group interactions;

 - Make comments about what they have heard and ask questions to clarify their understanding;

- Hold conversation when engaged in back-and-forth exchanges with their teacher and peers.


ELG: Speaking

Children at the expected level of development will:

- Participate in small group, class and one-to-one discussions, offering their own ideas, using recently introduced vocabulary;

- Offer explanations for why things might happen, making use of recently introduced vocabulary from stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems when appropriate;

- Express their ideas and feelings about their experiences using full sentences, including use of past, present and future tenses and making use of conjunctions, with modelling and support from their teacher.


Communication and language progression 


Nursery use LEAP (Language Enrichment Activity Programme)

LEAP is a structured 12 session programme, which aims to develop children’s oral language skills.

LEAP is appropriate for children who may have limited speaking and listening skills for a range of reasons.  This could include children with English as an additional language, children with poor speaking and listening skills, or children who have had limited opportunities to develop their speaking and listening.  


LEAP was produced by the Sheffield  Speech and language Therapy Service


Reception use Wellcomm



Talking Tips


  • Play together- allow your child to take the lead when you play together, this will keep them motivated and they'll develop crucial thinking and language skills through their play.


  • Limit distractions- Turn off the t.v. and limit background noise so your child fully concentrate on their task.


  • Ditch the dummy- this stops your child talking. This video shows you how their speech can change when they use a dummy for too long.


  • O.W.L- Observe, wait and listen before interrupting your child.


  • Get down to your child's level- if you want to engage their attention, get down to their level first before talking to them, that way they can maintain eye contact with you.


  • Think about your non verbal communication- facial expression, body language, gesture and tone of voice are great ways of showing your child that you're interested in what they say.


  • Imitate your child's language- copy their sounds and words as this will show them you're valuing their words and will encourage them to keep on talking.


  • Use simple language- describe your everyday activities (e.g. "I'm washing the cups"), talk slowly and clearly.


  • Build on what your child says to you- Add one or two more words (this is referred to as match plus one), for example your child says, "Look, car", you could say, "Look, red car". By doing this you are repeating back what they have said and modelling new words and sentences. Here is a video to help you to see this in action.


  • Share books together- One of the best ways to develop your child's language is to share books together. For more information click here. 


  • Enjoy songs and nursery rhymes together- especially ones with lots of actions and repetition. Here is a video that shows how these can help. 


  • Use repetition- Children need to hear words several times in different situations before they can understand and use them.


  • Offer your child choices- This will help your child to learn more words, (e.g. "Do you want red socks or blue socks?"). This video helps to show you examples of this. 


  • Limit your questions- Too many questions can overwhelm your child and can block the flow of natural conversation. The best questions are those that challenge your child to think.


  • Give your child time to respond- Give your child at least 10 seconds to respond to a question, they take longer to process information.


  • Model words rather than criticise- If your child makes an error in a word or sentence, simply say the correct version back rather than pointing out the mistake (e.g. Child: "I runned to the park", Adult: "you ran to the park"). This video shows you how to do this. 


  • Emphasise the correct pronunciation-If your child mis pronounces a word or sentence then repeat it back to them so that they can hear the correct sounds in the words (Child: "tat teep", Adult: "the cat's asleep, your right, the cat is asleep"). 



Updated August 2023