Supporting children’s development in the Early Years

Advice for parents from the WCF Early Years Inclusion Team

There are lots of ways that parents can help young children to continue to learn whilst at home and to support their child’s holistic development.  Children learn a range of skills and knowledge through their play and parent should play alongside their child, in the child’s preferred activity and by:

  • introducing new concepts and words as you play alongside your child, taking the lead from their activity - for example label the objects they are playing with (car, colours etc)
  • extending the play - for example if building with blocks, introduce small world characters that extend the building exercise into a castle for example, where different characters, animals or objects can be introduced
  • encourage role play - provide children with old kitchen pots, pans, wooden spoons etc for them to mimic cooking in a kitchen or old keyboard and phones for office role play
    • you don’t need to spend money on expensive play kits, just make sure the old equipment you are using is safe with no broken parts that can cause harm through chocking
  • Early Years Inclusion Team - the team have a range of resources available for early years practitioners that will also be relevant for parents

Language development

Language development is key to children’s development in the early years, and the following strategies can be employed to help foster development in their speech, language and communication:

  • limit your language wherever possible instead of saying “Shall we go into the garden to play with the ball?” you can say “Garden? Ball?” this way your child has significantly less words to process and understand
  • gain the child’s attention - always ensure the child is looking at you when you are talking to them; get down on the ground so you are at their level, touch them on the arm to gain their attention, and then give them the instruction when they are looking at you
  • allow children to process information – when giving an instruction give them time to process the request, we would recommend 10 seconds and then repeat the instruction
  • use visual clues and prompts when giving instructions if a child has limited understanding, we advise that you use the object of reference to help children understand your command
    • for example if its time to change a nappy hold the nappy whilst saying ‘Nappy time’
    • if it’s time to have a drink or dinner, hold the cup and plate when giving the instruction ‘dinner’
    • the object gives your child an added clue as to what you are asking them to do
  • Speech Therapy Services - the Worcestershire Speech Therapy Services have a range of resources that are available for parents and also early years practitioners website: Children's Speech and Language Therapy Resources (opens in a new window)

Useful websites

There are a range of additional websites that can support parents in understanding language development along with practical tips to support development for children with delayed skill development:

Website: Language for Learning (opens in a new window)

Website: AFASIC for life (opens in a new window)

Website: I can (opens in a new window)

Website: The Communication Trust (opens in a new window)

Website: Elkcan (opens in a new window)

Website: Stamma - for parents (opens in a new window)

Website: NHS - Selective Mutism (opens in a new window)