Education Finders speaks to Suzanne Sumner, principal of Al Forsan Nursery in Abu Dhabi to find out more.

How can parents contribute to effective communication skills? The most important factor in relation to developing children’s early linguistic skills, is that of being a positive role model.

Children absorb the language that they hear around them that is a natural part of daily life. They take in and process information through daily interactions and experiences within their home, nursery, engaging in play with peers, and the immediate world around them.

When you engage your child in daily interactive conversations, they are more likely to pick-up on language skills and transfer these skills into their own verbal interactions. Reading books, singing songs, playing word games and simply talking to children will increase their vocabulary while providing increased opportunities to develop their listening skills.

Child teach effective communication
Suzanne Sumner – Principal of Al Forsan Nursery

Does communication go beyond verbal skills? Absolutely! From the perspective of the role of grownups, adults need to be acutely aware of the role of their own facial expressions, body language and tone of their voice when interacting – especially with children and even more importantly when interacting with children who for example have English as an additional language.

As an Early Years specialist, I often find myself interacting with young children using elaborate hand gestures and/or simple sign language to emphasis what I am communicating.

From the perspective of the child, it is also true that communication goes beyond verbal skills. For example, challenging behaviour such as shouting, throwing or screaming can all emanate from a young child not yet being able to work out how to communicate their feelings through words. Our role is to model and scaffold in these situations.

What are the benefits of communication skills in terms of early year children becoming effective future global citizens? Given the current world pandemic situation that we are all currently working, living and learning in, our children are transforming into 21st century global citizens without even realising it. They are being immersed in a world that they live in both physically and virtually.

To truly be able to communicate effectively as a ‘global citizen’, we need to be modelling and helping children to think ‘outside-of-the-box’ and take risks; we need to demonstrate collaborative approaches in problem solving. In the ever-increasing digital world that we find ourselves living in, it is vitally important that children are fluent in communicating with technology.

What are the tools or activities that a parent must invest in for the development of this important skill? Most importantly, parents have a crucial role in respect to the early language acquisition of their child.

Early positive parent-child interactions are essential for shaping a child’s language development and can have a lasting effect on how well a child develops their early linguistic foundations. It is in the first five years of a child’s life where their brain is still developing, and synaptic networks are still being established – this is when children are most receptive to forming links in learning and how parents positively interact with their child in these delicate years can define their future learning.

From birth, children should be hearing quality language through daily life within the home. This may include simple activities such as talking through your daily chores, engaging in singing activities when changing diapers for example or asking questions such as ‘would you like milk or juice?’ to encourage a verbal response.

I really can’t place enough emphasis on the benefits of singing nursery rhymes and how this can help children to develop their emergent literacy skills. Many nursery rhymes are repetitive which can support the development of memory and kickstart the practice of listening and speaking. When children hear nursery rhymes, they hear the sounds vowels and consonants make. This helps them to learn, in a fun way, how to put sounds together to make words.

Most importantly, have fun, be patient and remember, try not to compare your child to others. There is no comparison between the sun and the moon, they shine when it’s their time!

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