Facilitating Early Childhood Language Development

This post is for JFTN parents who could not make it to our last parent group meeting, or for those would like to refer back to the material we covered. Thanks to everyone who participated.

Illustration 1: The Building Blocks of Typical Preschool Social Development

Illustration 2: The Shaky Foundation When Social Development Goes Awry.

The Building Blocks of Social Development

For the purpose of explaining the foundations of preschool social development, we have separated these fundamental capacities into separate blocks (Illustration 1). However, please remember they are synergistic, interrelated and interdependent. You will notice they are placed in layers that climb to the pinnacle of cooperative play and collaborative group learning. Each layer represents capacities that are inherently connected and interdependent as well as emerging in a similar time frame in development. One layer builds upon the next, resulting in a fully functional and flexible kindergarten ready child, armed with the social thinking and social processing skills needed to play with others and learn in a group.

In the second illustration, we see that if the fundamental capacities are not fully developed or if there are gaps in certain areas, the foundation is weak and our student does not have all the tools to join and play at the level of his work her peers.

Facilitating Language Development

Childhood Activities Illustration

Parents and teachers can help to improve children's language abilities by modeling more mature language, expanding upon children’s comments, and using"self" and"parallel" talk throughout the day. Try these strategies and watch how language abilities progress.

Modeling refers to restating the child's comment, adding a few words, thereby making the utterance more mature and grammatically correct.
For example, a child says: “Him running." A parent or teacher can model: “Oh, he is running!"

Expansion refers to adding information to a child's comment, thereby modeling more advanced language structures and/or vocabulary.
For example, a child says: “The dog is running!” A parent or teacher can expand by saying: “Yes, the big brown dog is running quickly!”

Self-Talk refers to talking about what you are doing as you do it.
For example, as you cook gingerbread, self-talk can include comments such as: “I am opening up this box. I am ripping open this bag because it has the cake mix inside. I really need to pull hard! It opened! Now, let’s pour the cake mix right into the middle of this mixing bowl.”

Parallel Talk refers to talking about what the child is doing while involved in an activity.
For example, as a child plays with trucks, parallel talk can include comments such as: “You chose the red truck! Boy, you drive it carefully on that long ramp! Oops, it crashed! The blue car fell off, right?”

Try these techniques at home or in the classroom. You will soon hear your child’s language abilities grow.

Thanks to Carla for sharing this information