Our Speech and Language Team at Michael Faraday is keen to pass on some guidance for parents and carers.
Top 4 tips to develop speaking and listening
For children aged 5
Teach children how to listen – encourage them to identify good listening skills in themselves.
Use good practice strategies to teach new vocabulary – link new words to those children already know. Ask the children if they have heard of the word before, help them fill in gaps of understanding and play around with how the word looks and feels. Perhaps set up a word wall in class.
Give explicit structures for supporting narrative skills – stories should have who, where, when, what happened and an ending. Encourage an ethos of asking for clarification, saying when they don’t understand and what they’re struggling with.
Give plenty of time for children to think and respond to questions.
For children aged 7
Play word games, E.g. Have children think up different words for the same thing, talk about word opposites, add adjectives to describe an object, or add adverbs to describe an action.
Encourage longer sentences to explain; have a box full of connectives, E.g. also, then, next, because, however. Use one of them to explain your homework.
Give children specific roles for group games, E.g. encourager, questioner, timekeeper, leader, observer – show them what to do and practice what to say. This will facilitate group working and discussions.
Encourage an ethos of asking for clarification, saying when they don’t understand and what they’re struggling with.
For children aged 9
To develop concept vocabulary, have a box of words related to time/measurement/ size/shape – encourage children to choose a word, say what they know about it, how it can be used, E.g. “Octagon is a shape with 8 sides, I remember it because it’s like octopus, 8 legs!”
Children may need time to think before responding to questions and instructions. Give them time for thinking and processing.
Play inferencing games to build these complex language skills – “What do I mean when I say… you’ll need a warm coat?”, “How do you know…”.
Encourage children to comment on their own sentences – do they include a connecting word, do they have lots of descriptive words?