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Guest blog: Chatterbox Challenge 2016 with Boogie Mites

What is school readiness and why do we want it? Today there is so much emphasis on ‘school readiness’ that we are in danger of forgetting what we are preparing children for.

So, what is school readiness?

Although the term ‘school readiness’ is frequently used, there is in fact no agreed definition of the term. But if we think about our education system, with its regular written testing from age 5 to 21, then it follows that if a child is to ‘succeed’ he/she will have to have the well developed verbal and written communication skills required to participate.

And indeed in wider life, whether a child chooses to leave school early like Richard Branson or study to become a professor, the ability to listen, to speak, to read and to write with confidence is key in determining health, wealth and wellbeing.

Helping children communicate

So as educators, helping children to develop good communication skills must be a central objective. Children who arrive at school with poor communication skills will likely fall behind their peers and may never have the opportunity to catch up, making any initial ‘attainment gap’ a permanent feature. So how do we ensure all young children have the opportunity to develop their communication skills ready for school and for life?

Listen before you speak

This is a good mantra for any communication exchange, but for children learning a language (whether their mother tongue or an additional language), the ability to hear and discriminate between different phonemes, rhymes, word rhythms, alliteration – what we call phonological awareness – is a key prime skill.

So how do we teach children to listen? We need to listen to them!

Let’s start with what we know about 3-5 year olds.

  • They don’t like sitting still for long
  • They like to play and have fun
  • They have very vivid imaginations

So we are looking for a learning tool that allows for free self-expression, movement, imagination AND teaches listening skills? Can it also be free and good for well-being?

Yes, yes and YES! Music does all this and more!

Since brain imaging technology in the 1990’s was able to depict the ways in which music stimulates the human brain, much research has been dedicated to exploring how we can use music to maximise cognitive development.

Chatterbox Challenge

If you want to see how you can use music to promote communication skills, there are lots of music resources available with this year’s Chatterbox Challenge 2016. With the help of Ben and Holly, Chatterbox Challenge 2016 is a fantastic opportunity to get children chattering about what they are doing, seeing and hearing in a sponsored sing-along. This aims to support children’s communication development whilst raising important funds for I CAN, the children’s communication charity. With some fantastic prizes to be won – why not get involved?  Visit www.chatterboxchallenge.org.uk to sign up for your FREE activity guide and fundraising pack or nominate a nursery to take part here: www.ican.org.uk/cbc-nominate

If you would like to know more about the science linking music to language development and how you can use music to boost communication skills download the Practitioner’s Guide To Active Music Making here

Author: Harriet Thomas is Creative Director at Boogie Mites, music and movement programmes to support EYFS.