Teaching and Encouraging Good Language Use in The Childcare Centre

Teaching And Encouraging Good Language Use In The Childcare Centre
Posted on May 15 2024 Categories:

Whatever should be the case in an ideal world, in reality, people meeting us for the first time often form initial subconscious and powerfully persuasive impressions based on how we look, dress and speak.

Those impressions may be wrong and deeply misleading. Yet they exist and can even be applied to children. That’s partly why, for a childcare centre, helping children to develop good articulation is considered highly important.

Why language is important at the childcare centre

Due to its tendency to be forgiving and its relatively simple grammatical structure, English is widely regarded as an easy language to become proficient in.

Even so, for young children, learning the finer points of a language can be challenging. This is not a question of vocabulary which will naturally build over time, but rather of using language grammatically and richly to ensure good communication.

A childcare centre regards the correct use of language as important because ultimately it helps a child to communicate their ideas, sentiments, frustrations, joys etc. It also helps set the stage for their further development and positions them for entry into the schooling system.

So, while childhood speech is a wonderful thing to be cherished, it’s also important that a childcare centre has the skills and techniques to help children progress.

It is always risky to think about milestones in the context of specific ages because children develop at different rates. Even so, some general averages are useful in helping to monitor their progress.

Where the development of language is concerned, children should at:

  • 24 months – have a comprehension vocabulary of around 200 simple words and be able to respond using a vocabulary of perhaps an equally simple 20-50 words (with many mistakes of grammar and words). They should also be able to construct a very simple 2-3 word sentence;
  • 2-3 years – understanding 300 or so words, including slightly more complicated ones. Their sentences may now have 4-5 words in and they’ll be able to use elements of simple grammar more reliably (e.g. using an ‘s’ sound to indicate plurals). They should also be expressing their preferences (I want, I like);
  • 3-4 years – even if they’re not sure grammatically what it means, they should be using simple tenses to indicate past, present and future (I had, I have, I will have). Sentences should be becoming more complex using connectors like ‘and’. Be able to explain things such as “How did that happen?”. Errors in grammar though will remain plentiful;
  • 4-5 years – at this age most children should be capable of holding a reasonably cohesive and extensive discussion. They should be able to link consequences in their sentences (“If I go down there then he’ll also want to come back here”). They will still make some minor grammatical errors like “He want a sweetie but I said no” but on the whole, they’ll be using recognisable and fairly correct sentence structures.

There may be significant variations in the above though. Some children for poorly-understood reasons, develop complex language skills much faster or slower than others. Most such variations are not cause for concern.

The role of the childcare centre

Child psychologists have argued for centuries as to whether the development of complex speech characteristics is innate or not. Most agree that speech development may occur naturally as a predisposition, but much of it is built by social constructs, imitation and direct teaching.

That makes the roles of parents, the wider family and a childcare centre, massively important in trying to help children to develop their language skills.

The typical childcare centre will create conditions where children are encouraged to use speech as often as possible. Where appropriate, they will be helped to learn new words and how to use them.

Errors will be gently corrected but it is important not to highlight every error made at younger ages because this may lead to inhibition from speaking. Most children, in the correct nurturing environment, will quickly recognise their grammatical mistakes and self-correct.

If you’d like to learn more about our early learning programs and specifically speech development, why not make an appointment to come and visit us?