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Language, language everywhere – a blog from Clare Geldard, I CAN’s Director of Operations and a qualified speech & language therapist

This week our blog is dedicated to our membership of the Read On.Get On campaign which is focussing on getting little ones ready to read by helping parents develop 2-5 year old’s communication skills.

When we talk about taking time and thought to develop children’s language we aren’t really asking for lots to change. There is lots that we can all do to make any activity help with learning to talk.

We so often take our communication skills for granted that we lose sight of the fact that they were nurtured, and they develop as a result.

There are simple things families and staff working with the youngest children can do that make a huge difference. You don’t need a special qualification or skill, a special resource or “thing” or to be anywhere special. You can help get a little one ready to read pretty much anywhere – on the sofa, on the swings, on the way to the shops or while they sit in the trolley and pull in their favourite treats!!

Some are about the physical environment and making it a bit more helpful for developing language. Simply turning off the background noise like the TV, so children can listen better and there are fewer distractions, helps them to develop essential listening skills.

There are things we can do as adults in the way we talk that make a difference – not asking too many questions, making a comment instead, waiting after you’ve asked a question so they have time to think, extending what they say by adding a word or two instead of correcting them.

Some ideas are about making time for talking, even if it’s 5 minutes a day when you have some special time for talking and listening with your child. Using the time to sing songs, tell stories, play games.

But what we want most is to get across the idea that it doesn’t have to be a special ‘language activity’ you can build talking, understanding and listening into virtually any day-to-day activity, like spotting different colour cars as you walk along, remembering a list of 2, 3 or 4 items when you’re shopping, talking about what you’re doing while you’re changing for bed and making it into a game

And there are loads of ideas – many free to download from our own website and from Read On.Get On – about how to support early language development. Talking Point, our information hub, tells you what to expect at different ages and what kind of activities are best at that stage to bring your young child on.

If you take the time, we’ll give you the tools and you can get your little one ready to read.

Language, language everywhere – a blog by Clare Geldard, I CAN’s Director of Operations and a qualified speech & language therapist