Learning and Development

Speech and language videos – Practical strategies for Early Years

  • Speech and language videos – Practical strategies for Early Years

Enhance your understanding of speech and language development and learn practical strategies to foster these skills in young learners with these speech and language videos featuring speech and language expert Jenny Hillier...

In Early Years, speech and language development plays a pivotal role in a child’s overall cognitive and social growth.

However, many children face challenges in this area, hindering their ability to communicate effectively.

Yellow Door has collaborated with Jenny to address these concerns. These speech and language videos contain invaluable guidance for practitioners and teachers, using these playful nursery rhyme rollers.

How young children learn language

Key takeaways

  • Language development begins from birth
  • Back-and-forth exchanges lay the foundation for language development
  • Speech and language development continues through social interaction
  • Parents don’t cause speech and language delays, but adults in their lives can help them progress

Benefits of using nursery rhymes

Key takeaways

  • Actions encourage active participation to support vocabulary development
  • Nursery rhymes are verbal routines that make language predictable
  • Rhythm and rhyme develop phonological awareness
  • The familiarity of nursery rhymes helps children visualise the story
  • Nursery rhymes are fun and this has a positive impact on learning

Milestones for 3-to-4-year-olds

Speech versus language

  • Language refers to the understanding and use of words
  • Speech refers to the pronunciation of sounds in words

Key takeaways

  • Attention is single-channelled, making it difficult to shift focus
  • Follows instructions with three pieces of information
  • Retells stories using short, simple sentences
  • Understands basic WH questions and responds simply
  • Understands simple concepts and opposites
  • Speech is 75 to 90% intelligible
  • May still have a lisp: ‘tar’ for ‘car’ or ‘bish’ for fish, etc

Milestones for 4-to-5-year-olds

Key takeaways

  • Attention is more dual-channelled
  • Understands basic why and how questions, but may still find them tricky to answer
  • Comprehends sequencing terms – first, next, last etc.
  • Uses more adult-like grammar – some errors may still be present, eg “fighted”
  • Sentences are spoken with five words at a time
  • Will join in and retell short stories
  • Speech is 90 to 100% intelligible
  • May still say ‘bider’ for ‘spider’ or ‘wed’ for red, etc

Developing speech and language skills for 3-to-4-year-olds

Top 5 strategies

  • Reduce questions asked and model language – narrate what you are doing and add language to their experiences
  • Avoid correcting errors – model and repeat the correct production instead – “ssssstar!”
  • OWL – observe, wait and listen. Respond with interest – this will hold attention for longer
  • Pause and allow children to fill in the gap – “twinkle twinkle little…”
  • Hold objects up to your mouth as you talk so children see how your mouth moves

Developing speech and language skills for 4-to-5-year-olds

Top 5 strategies

  • Support sequencing skills - use time concepts “first, next, last” as you play
  • Produce tricky words - clap out a word like “De-li-cious”
  • Support their ability to answer questions. Try “I wonder why…” and model your thought processes – “I think…”
  • Understanding tricky words – use synonyms like “spotted” and relate it to their own lives
  • Use words you’ve discussed in a different context to support understanding

Supporting reluctant talkers

Key takeaways

Reluctant talkers are children who use their voice freely at home but struggle to use their voice outside of the home.

  • Reduce your questions and try commenting on their activity with no pressure to respond
  • Use lead-in phrases which may encourage them to use their voice
  • Accept and acknowledge all forms of communication
  • Support their confidence in using their voice

Supporting children with SEND or neurodiversity

Key takeaways

  • Let go of how we think play should go – remember, all play is valid!
  • Follow their lead in play and discover what has their interest
  • Tune in to what they are already communicating with their bodies
  • Model core words – 200 words make up 80% of what we say
  • Support understanding and use of core words with a core board
  • Introduce a choice board to encourage independence
  • Visual schedules support understanding of the sequence of events

Speech and language videos

Watch the full video containing all of this advice below.