What is communication? How can I support my child with their communication skills at home? How can I help my child reach their communication goals? Here are a few tips to help with these questions!
To put it simply, communication is how we communicate and this could be verbally and non-verbally. Here at Little Hands, we promote an equal and inclusive culture and encourage children to use both verbal and non verbal ways to communicate. We do this by using words, Makaton signs and gestures and offering visual aids.
At home you could support your child with their communication skills by demonstrating simple age appropriate language. This can be as simple as narrating their play, e.g “you’re playing with a black phone” or “black phone” or even just “phone”. We challenge children in different ways depending on their age.
Another method we use to support children’s communication and language is implementing the 10 second rule…The 10 second rule is where you ask a child a question and you count to 10 before asking another question or pushing for an answer if they don’t respond. This allows the child time to be able to listen, process and understand what has been said or asked of them without adding additional pressure. An example of this could be “What are you playing with?” *pause for 10 seconds while waiting for their response* If no answer has been given, you can then re-ask or rephrase your question before asking again.
We have successfully completed our Communication Friendly Status, which was awarded to us in 2022. This shows how our staff team fully supports children’s communication and language abilities. The award reinforces the importance of supporting early language and the ways in which this can be done as described above, simple tips such as using the 10 second rule, or simply ensuring a child can see you speaking are such small, but integral parts of a child’s early language development.
Not all of our communication has to be verbal. We use Makaton signs with all children at Little Hands from the Baby Room right through to Preschool. Makaton is a simplified version of British Sign Language which is used widely throughout England with Early Years children. We first introduce this with simple everyday signs such as “yes” “no” “please” “thank you” “more” “nappy” and “drink” etc. Makaton has huge benefits for communication as it allows babies to communicate their needs before they are able to verbally convey what they would like, it supports children who may speak multiple languages and is also hugely beneficial for children with a delay in speech and language, are pre-verbal or experience special educational needs.
We promote Makaton to parents and families through our regular workshops and also choose a sign of the week. Please ask a member of the team if you would like to join us and extend your Makaton knowledge! Signs can also be accessed through the Makaton website The Makaton Charity and also through ‘Singing Hands’ which can be accessed through youtube, this page offers an abundance of lovely songs supported fully with Makaton actions: SingingHandsUK – YouTube
Although our list could go on and on… the last example we would like to share with you are our Talk Boost sessions. At Little Hands, staff have been trained across our branches to deliver sessions called ‘Talk Boost’. This is a great way to support children’s communication and language skills over the space of 9 weeks. There are a range of stories which follow the adventures of Jake and Tizzy the tiger. Tizzy is our Tiger puppet and they come out to see if the children are doing; good listening, good looking and good sitting. Each story is accompanied by two activities and a song. The activities in these sessions aim to strengthen and widen the children’s communication. For example, understanding concepts such as big and little, understanding what Tizzy is doing, and understanding verbs (action words). The children all love these activities and will often carry these sessions out during their play.
Please feel free to speak to a member of staff for more information on Talk Boost and take a look at our stories and activity packs!