Story: Fran Belbin
The Every Child A Talker (ECAT) project aims to strengthen early language development in children to age 5 and to increase the involvement of parents in helping to develop children's language in the home. It is part of a national programme.
The project is running at Byron Wood School until July, led by Janette Graves, a Sheffield-based speech and language therapist. Burngreave has many children who are learning English as an additional language, increasing the focus on communication.
We asked Janette how successful the project has been so far. She told us,
“There has already been lots of sharing of good practice, helping practitioners to become more confident.Parents have become involved through attending workshops and events, taking away advice leaflets and goody bags! Children with difficulties are being identified earlier and are able to access support.”
The project hopes to develop and share the knowledge of practitioners by linking up to other schools and children's settings in the future and to continue its work through Sheffield’s Talking, a city wide project that aims to make “Every Sheffield Child Articulate and Literate by 11”.
ECAT's top tips for talking to your kids:
Repeat back what the child says.
Keep sentences simple – at a similar level to the child.
Give plenty of time for the child to respond.
If a child is finding language hard they will struggle to answer questions.
As things progress, use ‘open’ questions which require more than a
yes or no response.
Use choices as often as possible – “juice or water?”
Rather than criticize mistakes – repeat it back the correct way.
Expand on what the child says – if they says “brick you could say “red
Dump the dummy!