EY and KS1 Language Enrichment and Engaging in Play
“Let’s Get Talking”
Basic Language & Play Enrichment – EYFS
Jenni Evans – Independent Speech and Language Therapist
Why is communication important?
Poor language skills are considered a public
health problem (Law et al., 2013)
Good speakers and listeners do better at reading and writing.
Communication is key to making friends.
• Children who have a poor vocabulary aged 5 are 1½ times more likely to
have reading and writing difficulties later in life and more than twice as
likely to be unemployed as children who have a normal vocabulary aged 5
(Law et al, 2010)
• A child’s vocabulary and ability to talk in 2-3 word sentences at the age of
2 is a very strong predictor of the qualifications they will achieve when
they leave school (Feinstein and Duckworth, 2006)
Like a house, communication skills are built from the foundations upwards.
What communication are skills there?
attention & listening
attention & listening
Which do you think are in the foundations of the house and need to develop first?
Between 18 months & 6 years children learn
8 new words a day!!
0-3 years is the most crucial time for brain
Word association activity
What should my 3 year old do?
• Listen to and remember simple stories with pictures.
• Understand longer instructions: ‘Make teddy jump' or ‘Where's mummy's
• Understand simple 'who', 'what' and 'where' questions.
• Use up to 300 words.
• Use pronouns: I, me, my, he, she, your, we
• Put 4 or 5 words together to make short sentences: 'want more juice' or
‘he took my ball’.
• Ask lots of questions. They will want to find out
the name of things and learn new words.
• Often have problems saying more difficult
sounds like v, sh, ch, j, th and r. However, people
that know them can mostly understand them.
• Starting to play more with other children and
What should my 4 year old do?
• Listen to longer stories and answer questions about a story they have just
• Understand and often use colour, number and time related words: 'red'
car, 'three' fingers and 'yesterday / tomorrow'.
• Be able to answer questions about ‘why’ something has happened.
• Use longer sentences and link sentences together with ‘and’
• Describe events that have already happened: ‘we went park.'
• Enjoy make-believe play.
• Start to like simple jokes.
• Ask many questions using words like ‘what’ ‘where’
• Start to be able to plan games with others.
• Use most speech sounds – are 75-100% intelligible
What should my 5 year old do?
• Understand spoken instructions without stopping what they are doing to look
at the speaker.
• Choose their own friends and play mates.
• Take turns in much longer conversations.
• Understand more complicated language such as ‘first’, ‘last’, ‘might’, ‘maybe’,
‘above’ and ‘in between’.
• Understand words that describe sequences such as “first we are going to the
shop, next we will play in the park”.
• Use sentences that are well formed. However, they may still have some
difficulties with grammar. For example, saying
'sheeps' instead of 'sheep' or 'goed’ instead of
• Use most speech sounds. However, they may have
some difficulties with longer or more difficult words
such as 'scribble' or 'elephant'.
Put listening to your child first:
• Show your child how to be a good listener by listening to them and
• Be patient: don’t interrupt or finish their sentences for them
• Give your child your attention: try not to check your mobile phone
at the same time they are talking to you
• Show you’re listening: ask questions about what they say, ask their
• Listen to your child reading aloud regularly
What can you do?
Turn off the TV / remove the iPad and…..
TV / screen time
• Reduce the amount of TV and
computer time to a maximum of 30
minutes a day.
• TV and computers can prevent
conversation happening at home.
Children who watch too much TV
and spend too much time on the
computer, instead of playing and
talking with their family, are more
likely to have difficulties with
• Choose programmes and games
• Avoid having it on as ‘background
• Watch with them – comment and
Build talking into everyday activities
Talk about what is going on in your child’s world
Talk and play means the words will stay!
Name things & use lots of
“It’s a cow.” “Moo says the cow.” “cow
eating” “The cow’s walking.” “Black
and white cow” “the cow and the pig”
“the cow’s tail”
Reduce questions - turn your
questions into comments
“What’s that?” “It’s a bus”
“What’s he doing?” “Look,
What are you doing?” “you’re
pushing the car”
Expand their vocabulary by
introducing new words in a
Child: Horse runs fast”
Adult: “Wow! Look at him galloping.”
Speak in sentences one word longer than
Add one or two extra words
to what they have said e.g.
sizes, actions, adjectives,
Adult: Put on hat.
Child: Climb up
Adult: Climb up high
Adult: “blue car”, “Jack’s car”, “drive
car”, “fast car”, “brrm brrm car”
Doing the washing
/ actions /
Make it a
Following the child’s lead
Get down to your child’s level - position yourself at the same
level as them - get down on the floor or bring them up to your
Sit in a ‘communicative’ way - position yourself where your
child can see you - opposite, at the same height and nice and
close. When they look up they will know you are waiting and
Wait and watch what they are doing, don’t interfere.
Show them that you are listening and interested in what they
are doing by copying them in their actions and play.
Extend basic play
One step Two step
(adult models Step 1+2)
(adult models Steps
Lining up trains Push train over a bridge Stop the train because
something is on the track.
Bake a cake Sing happy birthday
Put on a doctors coat
Brush doll’s hair / undress
Pour a cup of tea
Build a rocket
• Model interactive play e.g. taking turns to build a tower or make sand shapes, and
interaction with siblings or friends e.g. taking turns / asking for a turn.
• Model imaginative play e.g. using home items e.g. pretending to drink from a
teacup/stir a mixture/pour a drink, eat play food/talk on the phone/a toy lion to
roar or other animal noises/a car to beep or other transport noises etc.
• Don't just watch from the side-lines – get "into" the play! It is easy to become a
"narrator" when playing with a child, and just talk about what is happening. A
narrator says things like "Oh, you are feeding the baby. You are taking such good
care of your baby". If you have a toy in your hand and play yourself, it will ensure
that you are "in" the play. Being ‘in' the play gives the child more chances to learn
because it allows for more interaction and conversation. Playing together will be a
back-and-forth "conversation", in which each of you has a chance to say or do
• Introduce new ideas – if your child is able to link some familiar pretend actions
together, the goal is to encourage less familiar themes. For example, if they enjoy
pretending with dolls, you could introduce a less familiar theme of a fairy coming to
visit the doll, or maybe the doll could visit a castle to see the king. Or if they enjoy
playing with vehicles you could introduce a less familiar theme by having the cars
break down and taking them to the mechanic. Or perhaps superheroes could drive
the cars as they save the day!
Living with 2+ languages
• Being bilingual is an advantage!
• Speak to your child in your strongest
• Do what feels natural