EYMP5: Support children's speech, language and communication

Children & Young People's Workforce L3

Speech is defined as vocalised form of communication where words are spoken to express thoughts.

Language is defined as verbal or written form of communication where words are used in a structured way. Language can also be described as a system of symbols that humans use to communicate verbally and non-verbally such as Braille used by people who are visually impaired. People who are hard of hearing use sign language.

Communication is the transmission or exchange of information between to people e.g conversation. Communication includes spoken, written and body language such as posture, facial expression and hand gestures.

Speech, language and communication skills help to support children's learning, behaviour, social and emotional development.

The following table shows how these areas of development are supported.

SLCN supporting children's development

Area of development SLCN supporting development
Learning Learn to sing nursery rhymes through which children can learn new words and form sentences.

Learn to read aloud and listen to stories read to them. Through this children can extend their vocabulary.

Learn to ask question and express their thoughts.

Learn to follow instructions.

Being able to use language to express their needs and thoughts.
Emotional Able to express their feelings, e.g happy, unhappy or sad.
Children manifest these feelings by talking to their toys or singing.

Express their feeling through painting or drawing pictures.

When children can express themselves vocally, they feel confident and gain self-esteem.
Behaviour An angry child might display aggression by shouting or using unacceptable words in the setting.

Through role play or pretend play, children learn the rules of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in the setting.

Children learn by observing and imitating others, so EYP can model positive behaviour (manners) by using positive language e.g 'please' and 'thank you' or praise children for effort, achievement and good behaviour.

When a child is able to communicate and undersand what is said to them, they feel less frustrated and behaves positively towards others.
Social Able to make friends

Able to form relationship with others.

Engage confidently in group activities and interact with other children. e.g. cooking activities.

Communication help to support play and games where they have to work as a team, take turns or share toys.e.g. board game, football, hopscotch.
Able to negotiate.

Potential impact of SLCN difficulties on children's development


- Children who haven't acquired language or communication skills will have difficulty in learning and understanding. They may feel frustrated and angry and lack confidence. Not being able to communicate well may affect their social life too; they may find it hard to make friends or maintain friendship.

- Potentially, children lacking SLCN maybe vulnerable to bullying and abuse.

- If children don't get professional help or referred to a speech therapist or language specialist, then lack of SLCN are likely to have long-term consequences.


- Difficulties in SLCN may have a lasting negative impact in later years or in adulthood. It may impact on education and finding work when they grow up.

- In terms of their social life, they may feel isolated and depressed as they don't have the ability to make friends or lack social skills that enable them to interact with other people and form relationship.

- Emotionally they may feel unhappy, angry, depressed, insecure and experience low-self esteem which may have an effect on their mental well-being.

Ways in which adult can support children's SLCN development

Method Positive effect
style of talking
EYP can speak slowly and softly. EYP can use few words to convey message to the younger children.

EYP can speak clearly and slowly when using longer sentences with older children.

EYP can use 'open' questions to encourage child to respond.

EYP can give child time to process the meaning, and repeat the sentence if child hasn't responded. EYP can give child time to say or respond' do not rush them.

EYP should speak clearly and use language approprate to child's level of understanding.

Allocated 'key person' can build a trusting relationship that may help child to feel safe and be able to talk. Child will feel that EYP cares and wants them to talk.

body language
EYP can use hand gestures to communicate with the younger children, for example, pointing at object when speaking so that children can grasp the meaning.

EYP should make eye contact and speak to children face to face.

Activities and resources EYP can design activities that promote language development such as role play or pretend play.

Cooking activities that encourage children to interact.

Singing nursery rhymes and using body language, e.g. If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands, touch your head etc.

Using Puppets to start a conversation.

Board games, cards and team games.

Use toys with speech technology based. e.g clock, counting numbers or reading alphabet.

Reading stories with pictures and making lots of sounds in context of the story.
Referrals EYP can refer child to language specialist or speech therapist

Can you think of any more?


Positive effects of adult support

- Children will be more responsive and become more sociable and emotionally sound and display positive behaviour.

- Children will develop confidence and self-esteem and become gradually independent.

- In terms of learning, children are likely to perform better in their setting and at school.

- Children who have acquired language will be better equiped in making friends and socialising.

Children will be confident in voice their opinions, asking questions and making request.

How levels of speech and language varies when entering early years and during settling period.

Every child is unique, so the levels of speech and language will vary depending on children's age, communication ability, personality and attitude towards meeting new people.

A new environment for a child can be daunting, so EYP need to make the transition from home to nursery as smooth as possible to help the child settle in . At home, children first spoken words or baby talk will need to be taken into consideration when children entering nurseries.

Once the child has settled in and comfortable or formed a bond with the key person, EYP can promote language development by doing observations and assessments using the developmental norms then design activities with the aim to encourage child to learn to talk or learn new words and sentences.


Babies can not talk, however they will communicate by crying. Babies will cry to let you know they are hungry or need nappy changing. They may cry because they want you to pick them up. EYP can respond by picking them up and swaying them, or changing their nappies or feeding them.

EYP can use gurgling sounds, make eye contact, smile, use babish voice and sing to them, this will encourage babies to produce sound, they will respond by gurgling, babling or smiling.

Babies learn through their senses, so create a babies activities e.g. exploring treasure basket and use colourful toys and shiny material to stimulate their senses which will encourge them to respond vocally - gurgling and babbling.

Introduce soft music and musical instruments to stimulate them and encourage them to make sounds vocally. Singing nursery rhymes is also a wonderful way of communicating and encouraging babies to express themselves vocally.

Older children:

Some older children can talk fluently and will settle in quickly, but others maybe shy or English is not their first language. EYP can allow the child to bring in their favourite doll or teddy that gives them a sense of familiarity. EYP can make the best of this situation by encouraging child to talk through teddy or doll.

Children of age 3 to 4 year olds like to be treated as adults, so EYP can talk to them as a younger adult and avoid baby voices and tones that sound patronising.

For children who don't speak English, an interpreter can support the children and sign language interpreter can help children develop their language. By the same token, children with learning disabilities can get support from EYP who specialises in Special Education Needs (SEN).

After sometime , EYP can set up activities that are fun and appropriate to their age, ability and personality with the aim of extending their vocabulary. Role plays and pretend plays are an effective way of promoting language development. EYP can provide resources that are attractive and stimulating that promote language.


DFE (2014) Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

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What to expect and when (2014)

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