Eligible working families whose children will be aged between 9 and 23 months old on 31 August can now apply to receive 15 hours childcare starting from September 2024.

Find out more information on the Childcare Choices website

Early Years

Communication and Language Initiatives and Audits

Communication and Language Initiatives and Audits

Communication and Language is a Prime Area of Learning, based on the central importance of communication skills for all learning and development. 

The statutory framework for the EYFS (2021) states that educational programmes must involve activities and experiences for children, as set out under each of the areas of learning.

‘The development of children’s spoken language underpins all seven areas of learning and development. Children’s back-and-forth interactions from an early age form the foundations for language and cognitive development. The number and quality of the conversations they have with adults and peers throughout the day in a language-rich environment is crucial. By commenting on what children are interested in or doing, and echoing back what they say with new vocabulary added, practitioners will build children's language effectively. Reading frequently to children, and engaging them actively in stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems, and then providing them with extensive opportunities to use and embed new words in a range of contexts, will give children the opportunity to thrive. Through conversation, story-telling and role play, where children share their ideas with support and modelling from their teacher, and sensitive questioning that invites them to elaborate, children become comfortable using a rich range of vocabulary and language structures.

Supporting children’s language through positive interactions

Young children communicate with others right from birth; they need to interact with responsive adults and the world around them to ensure healthy brain development. Throughout the early years, adults play an essential role in responding to children’s attempts to communicate and acting as positive role models. Read More


Creating Communication Friendly Environments

The Learning Environment, both inside and outside, can make a big difference to the way in which children communicate with adults and their peers. You may find it helpful to review how children are using your space:

  • Which areas are popular and well used; which are left unused?
  • What could you change or move?
  • Which areas encourage social interaction and chat?
  • Could you add materials to other areas to encourage children to talk to each other?
  • Are there spaces where children can be quieter?
  • Do you resource your provision with enticing objects and experiences that provoke children to talk?

Our Top Ten Tips for Creating a Communication Friendly Environment and Speech and Language UK’s factsheet on communication supportive environments for practitioners and checklists may support you with this.

Some children communicate in a different way and this guidance about understanding and developing communication from the National Autistic Society may help. To support children who are pre-verbal, resources like PECS, Widgit and the Noun Project along with games from Winslow Resources and Do2Learn could help.



Research demonstrates that children’s vocabulary development at an early age is linked to their educational success in later life. During both planned adult-led activities and those led by children, adults can model new vocabulary, in context, to help children understand and use new words. Speech and Language UK have produced a factsheet Vocabulary for Early Years Practitioners to support settings further. Practitioners from across Bucks have shared their ideas for acquiring and expanding new vocabulary and their strategies for developing communication and language with their children.


Further Support
  • There’s guidance on our website about communication and language in our Ordinarily Available Provision guidance and Graduated Approach documents.
  • NHS Speech and Language Therapy in Bucks offer information, advice, activities and resources for SENCOs, teachers and support staff working with pupils in all Early Years settings. The NHS Speech and Language Therapy Resource website is where you will find information about children’s communication skills from 0 – 19 years, covering all areas of speech, language and social communication development. You will also find relevant activities and resources under each age and communication area. When identifying a child’s level of communication development, you may need to look at the age range above and below the child (by clicking or swiping to the right or left). You will then find activities most appropriate to the child. Read More


Education Endowment Foundation

The EEF and Sutton Trust are the government-designated What Works Centre for Education who aim to raise the attainment of 3-18 year olds, particularly those who are disadvantaged.

Early Years Toolkit – Communication and language approaches explains how 6 months progress can be made by promoting communication and language in the setting.

Projects and evaluations This section features results from testing the impact of high-potential projects to generate new evidence of ‘what works’. Select ‘Early Years’ in the search drop down menu.

The Nuffield Early Language Intervention has a +4 month rating for language skills.

Guidance Report – Preparing for Literacy This guidance document is part of a series of reports that the EEF produced on the theme of literacy. It focuses on the teaching of communication, language and literacy to children between the ages of three and five.

The ShREC Approach is an approach developed by the EEF. The aim of the approach is to provide early years professionals with a simple, memorable set of specific evidence informed strategies that can be embedded into everyday practice. The EEF’s Fliss James introduces this approach and explains the key strategies. There’s more information and a free poster on the EEF website.

Was this page helpful?

Very poor
Neither good nor poor
Very good