Ican Chatterbox Chllenge Image For Blog

Guest blog: Have a tip-top Chatterbox Challenge with PACEY’s top tips

Here at the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) we are really excited about the upcoming Chatterbox Challenge week on 8th-14th February 2016.

PACEY understands that language is important because it forms the foundation for interacting with others – allowing us to communicate our needs, thoughts and experiences. Babies are born ready to communicate – listening, responding and interacting. We can all help develop and extend children’s learning through songs, storytelling and communication.

That’s why the Chatterbox Challenge is such a fantastic event and a brilliant way for childcare professionals to get involved in their local community. It not only helps to raise money for a great cause but is an opportunity to highlight the importance of supporting children to develop their communication and language skills in a fun, interactive way.

Looking to the year ahead we’re keen to continue to encourage our fabulous community of childcare professionals to get involved in the big event and we’ve crafted some special tips to inspire you too!

Our top tips for Chatterbox Challenge week

Child led planning and play

Let the children take the lead in planning their Chatterbox Challenge. The free packs from I CAN are jammed full of inspiration and by allowing a ‘process over product’ approach you can really see the benefits of learning through play.

How about giving children open-ended natural materials for small world play to spark imagination and encourage sensory exploration of language. A great way to inspire representation and creative expression, extending vocabulary and communication skills.

Follow the theme of Ben & Holly’s Elf and Fairy Party through small world, child-initiated play with some leaves, glitter and a bit of magic!

Emotional expression and language

Language and communication really is central to all areas of children’s lives and can impact their lifelong learning, achievements and health and wellbeing. You can incorporate activities into your Chatterbox Challenge that will support children to develop the language of emotion itself.

As we often find, children’s language reflects their home and social worlds. For example, as Amanda Baxter, I CAN’s Communication Adviser recently wrote in a blog for us: “Know when and how to talk about emotions. Research suggests that talking about emotions in a relaxed and comfortable way, e.g. when sharing books, has a more positive effect. Being neutral about emotions and not judging whether emotions were ‘good’ or ‘bad’ also supported children to use a wider range of emotional vocabulary.” Read more top tips from Amanda here.

Storytelling tips

Need a helping hand? Introducing literacy into your childcare setting doesn’t have to be confined to printed ink on a page.

Chatting away in funny voices as you flick through picture books, enjoying interactive eBooks together, listening to stories being told via video or audio and singing nursery rhymes can all spark communication and literacy learning. Essentially it is these ideas and questions the activities promote that create the foundation for developing reading and writing skills.

“A shared story between a child and a familiar, loved adult has a huge impact on children’s interest and motivation for reading later on,” says PACEY President, Penny Tassoni.

Gain confidence in your storytelling with Penny’s Top 5 Storytelling Tips here.

PACEY member Gloria Pope said of her Glocare childminding setting: “We have taken part in the Chatterbox Challenge for the past two years. We have 30 minutes of music, dance and chatter to the children’s chosen songs as well as the songs suggested by the information. We also make cakes the day before to sell to the mums, dads and assorted family members who support us.

“The kids love the organised chaos of the dance session and the fact they can make as much noise as they want, we also involve the neighbours for sponsorship and cake buying.

“We raise about £75 each time and we all get involved and the kids learn about helping kids who can’t communicate as well as they do. A good fun session.”

Can’t make the Chatterbox Challenge yourself, or want to help to spread the word about this fantastic event? Why not get involved by nominating a childcare setting? If you know a nursery, nanny, childminder or other early years setting that would like to get a free pack and join in the fun simply fill in the form to help spread the word!

You can register for Chatterbox Challenge 2016 and download your FREE activity pack here www.chatterboxchallenge.org.uk