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Understanding the EYFS: Communication & Language explained

Over the next 2 months, we will be taking a deep dive into each of the areas of learning within the Early Years Foundation Stage or EYFS.

In short, the EYFS is how the government and early years practitioners describe the time in your little one’s life between birth and age 5.

It’s a legal framework to ensure a high quality of care and safeguarding for your child. You can click here to find out more.

There are 7 areas of learning to explore in total, and we are getting started today with Communication & Language – let’s dive straight in!

What do we mean by Communication & Language?

Communication and Language are all about the way a child develops the ability to share messages with people.

This can include needs and wants, feelings, information as well as ideas. This area of development also refers to a child understanding what other people are communicating as well as expressing themselves.

There are many ways of communicating such as facial expressions, gestures, sounds and tone of voice. Language on the other hand is more precise, allowing children to express thoughts and ideas.

In the EYFS there are 3 parts to communication and language: listening/attention, understanding, and speaking.

This area of learning is recognised as a foundation which helps children develop across other areas of learning.

This is because:

  • Language is a central part of how we share information and ideas.

  • Saying how a child feels helps them develop self-regulation.

  • Communicating thoughts and feelings helps build strong relationships.

  • Reading and writing are dependent on being able to understand and use language.

How can I support my little one’s learning at home?

There are plenty of ways in which you can support your little one’s learning of language and communication at home.

The easiest (and main) way is just to chat!

Depending on your child’s age and development level this may either be you just chatting to them about your day, narrating your actions or this could be both of you discussing each other’s days, feelings, ideas and more!

The more you talk to your little one the more vocabulary and ways of communication they will be exposed to, helping them develop the skill faster.

Next, there’s reading.

Children’s books are amazing!

They introduce new words and ideas, help your little one with language comprehension, and give you an opportunity to bond and discuss the events of the book together.

Finally, why not try some structured activities?

Activities are another great way to help your child develop language and communication skills.

These allow for conversations you probably wouldn’t have together on a daily basis and so give your little one the opportunity to expand their learning!

Here are a few ideas:

  • Tea party

Include all of your little one’s favourite toys and teddies in their own tea party!

It’s a great opportunity to practice (and discuss) real-life skills such as pouring tea, serving cake, and taking turns in conversation.

  • Would you rather

This activity doesn’t need any resources, just imagination!

The questions can be as serious or as silly as you’d like. A good starting point is to ask for preferences whether that’s food, activities or toys.

Or why not try the classics: Would you rather be a monster-sized ant or an ant-sized monster? Would you rather have hands for feet or feet for hands?

Help your child expand their vocabulary by also asking for explanations.

  • Nursery rhymes

Nursery rhymes and repetitive songs with actions are great opportunities to practice listening skills and changes in intonation (stress, rhythm, accent etc.).

Children’s playlists across YouTube and music streaming platforms (e.g. Spotify) are a great place to start.

  • Roleplay

Roleplay is all about effective communication. There are so many different options from real-life activities like grocery shopping to fantasy play like catching the baddie.

Make sure you stock up on fancy dress items/accessories (this can be as simple as masks, jewellery or headbands or as complex as full costumes) and materials to allow your little one to get really immersed.

Additional Resources


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