Learning and Development

Communication and Language 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.

What is a Language Rich Environment?

A language-rich environment aims to support the development of all children’s language skills using quality adult interaction along with engaging resources, such as the Five Golden Rules for Communication and the GM Top Ten. It is a nurturing learning space which is purposefully used by children and skilled practitioners who are able to maximise appropriate opportunities to interact and use language. These knowledgeable adults respond positively to children’s communication and are able to recognise and act swiftly when further support may be needed, either through the use of the Pathway or WellComm resources. By building positive relationships, practitioners in language-rich environments support children’s confidence in using language and are best positioned to help families continue this learning in the home through everyday opportunities. Families who speak other languages at home should continue to create these opportunities in their home language to build a firm foundation on which English can be learnt. For more information and support to help you to embed your language rich environment contact Startwellbookings@bolton.gov.uk

Here are some additional resources to help support the enhancing of children's communication and language development by reflecting on the quality of interactions to embed a language rich environment:

What the early years foundation stage (EYFS) framework says:

Supporting children learning English as an Additional Language (EAL)

Speaking more than one language has lots of advantages for children. It is the norm in many countries around the world. Children will learn English from a strong foundation in their home language. It is important for you to encourage families to use their home language for linguistic as well as cultural reasons. Children learning English will typically go through a quiet phase when they do not say very much and may then use words in both languages in the same sentence. Talk to parents about what language they speak at home and try and learn a few key words; Celebrate multilingualism in your setting.

On Duty Speech and Language Therapist

We now have a duty rota which means a Speech and Language Therapist will be available to answer your questions and offer support for individual children you may have concerns about.  

A speech and Language Therapist will be available to speak to from 3:30pm - 4:30pm every week day by telephone: 01204 338349.  You can also email startwell@bolton.gov.uk and the team will respond during those hours.

Examples of what the team can support practitioners with include:

  • Your questions relating to specific children (pre-referral);
  • Early Help Assessments;
  • Referring into the service and criteria;
  • WellComm scores; and
  • Questions with regards to 'The Big Book of Ideas'.

Bolton Start Well – Early Years Communication and Language Development Service

Bolton Start Well Service includes a Communication and Language Development Team which is a collaborative venture between Bolton Council, Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group and Bolton NHS Foundation Trust. The team includes Speech and Language Therapists and Teachers who work with the early years workforce, parents and professionals to support the development of communication skills in all children including effective early identification of those at risk of speech and language delay.

Bolton Start Well Service provide professional development services for the early years workforce, to train and upskill practitioners to effectively support children’s communication and language development. You can check out the variety of professional development opportunities and training available in the courses section of the website.

Useful links

Help for early years providers: communication and language (Gov.uk)

Help for early years providers: English as an additional language (Gov.uk)

Featured Downloads

Considerations for singing in the early years setting during COVID-19
This guidance contains updated considerations to help you to feel confident to continue to share singing experiences within your setting. 

Guidance for Tips of the Month
Guidance for the use of monthly speech, language and communication development top tips for practitioners.

Top tips of the month for practitioners
Monthly top tips to update practitioners on key areas of speech, language and communication development.

Top tips of the month for parents
Monthly tips which practitioners can share with parents to encourage activities in the home learning environment to promote communication and language development.

Songs of the month
A monthly song card to share with children and parents: one song is a traditional song and the other is a new song to teach the children and share with parents.

Five Golden Rules for Communication
Poster/factsheet outlining the five golden rules to support children’s early communication and language development for use by practitioners and parents.

Communication and Language Development Monitoring Tool - Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently asked questions to support you in using the monitoring tool and when to use other interventions such as WellComm Toolkit.

Referral criteria for the Early Years Communication and Language Development Service
Please refer to the Early Years Integrated Communication and Language Pathway document to ensure you have included what In-house support you have provided to the child.

Communication Champion – Useful Websites Factsheet
A list of useful websites for Communication Champions which provide information, advice and resources to support children’s communication and language development.

Early Years Communication – Blank Language
Blank language for learning model and story telling.

Blank level questions
Blank level questions using a variety of books.

Speech sounds
Informational factsheet about how children learn sounds.

Communication & Language Development Resource Cards - Bolton Start Well - Conference 2020
Top Tips resource cards - Bolton Start Well - conference February 2020.