As children’s communication develops, even far before they’ve said their first words, they look to us and their peers for their next cue. This is why it’s so important that standards for positive communication are set and practiced regularly.
At Lil’ People’s World, we are dedicated to providing the environment and positive reinforcement needed to establish healthy communication skills both in and outside the classroom. We also want our families to know the intentionality behind our curriculum and our outstanding teachers’ thoughtful, consistent techniques for helping children understand the nuances of communication. In doing so, our goal is to guide your child along their journey to self-expression, enabling them to use their voice with confidence and care.
Beyond outlining our center’s philosophy, we’re excited to share our tips and tricks with the hopes that they support you in your incredibly important role in this journey at home.
Little Ears Are Always Listening
Far before a child’s language abilities surface, they are intently listening, taking in everything around them. During utero, a baby begins to hear internal sounds at 18 weeks, then external sounds around the 6–7 month mark, and by full term, their hearing abilities closely reach those of adults. This time in the womb starts the association with language and varying tones, which continues to develop rapidly when the baby enters the world.
Within the first five years of a child’s life, they gradually understand, retain, and learn to communicate nearly 10,000 words. These years also introduce sounds and their signaled responses. While children’s brains are busy connecting the dots, this is a crucial time to hone in on word choice and intonations said to and around them.
At Lil’ People’s World, our teachers are poignantly aware that a child’s developmental years consist of sensory overload that can easily result in negatively formed habits or associations without careful attention to this potential. In turn, the language, speaking cadence, and nonverbal actions our teachers use are intentionally selected and consistently practiced to positively contribute to each child’s meaning-making process.
Whether it’s at home or in the classroom, a positive association can be formed just as easily as a negative one, and even the smallest praises can impact a child’s learning for the better!
Why? Why? Why?
Children’s curiosity about how and why adults do certain things is a sign of their meaning-making process in action. Offering thoughtful commentary to explain your actions or continuing the dialogue after a child asks a specific question is extremely helpful for the child’s growth. Repetitively responding to a child’s questions in a patient, informative manner as well as providing unprompted in-the-moment insight positively reinforces their learning process.
Praising a child’s curiosity teaches them that their thoughts are important and validates their desire to understand. It’s our job to meet them where they are, welcome their curiosity, and use our response to encourage their continued curiosity. Even before children can verbally express themselves, it’s just as important to consistently respond to their cries or other nonverbal cues calmly and with love.
Communication is the peak of attachment—when expression of any form is met with acknowledgment and comfort, a child’s security in knowing they’re heard sets a strong foundation for them to safely express their needs, feelings, or concerns throughout their development.
The environment in every Lil’ People’s World classroom adheres to the children’s age group and their appropriate communication prompts. For example, we label simple items and areas of the classroom with pictures and words to help build recognition between the object and its written name. These labels maintain consistency and as the children engage with them repetitively, they learn that their meaning stays the same and can form their expectations.
Learning Together and Individually
Individual and group engagement are both majorly important for communication development. Our teachers use intentional language and visual prompts that facilitate peer interactions and collective learning. One-on-one, our teachers understand that not every child is at the same level of communication and adheres to their needs in their stage of development.
Our teachers make great efforts to allow each child time to communicate their needs. Whether a child is signaling hunger through fussiness or expressing exhaustion through tears, both are instances that are assessed and responded to. Through many forms of communication, we can establish an individualized environment for every unique child, focusing on each of their different communication skills and preferences for gaining knowledge.
Communication for children is the gateway to learning about the world around them. Practicing engaging language opportunities and congratulating progress routinely fosters excitement for learning and builds confidence in curiosity!
Five Tried & True Communication Tips
Here are our five tried and true tricks to use at home:
Explain Your Actions. Anytime you find a chance to describe what you are doing with an action or words, do it! Children love to be a part of these opportunities and learn basic routines at home as well as school, per repetition.
Show the Joys of Reading. Reading with enjoyment helps a child associate reading as an exciting activity that they can enjoy doing too! In turn, it promotes better reading skills. Share reading moments with your children daily, even if it’s just reading the STOP signs in the car on the way to school.
Welcome Question Asking. While juggling a million things at once as a parent, it’s easy to get caught up in distractions and offer a quick response when your children ask a question. Remind yourself that the world around them is so very new, and their questions exhibit their desire to learn. Although children do not yet understand the stressors in adult life, short or dismissive responses could confuse them or disrupt their thought processes. Mirroring their excitement and praising their attention to detail encourages continued excitement to learn.
Be Present. Of course, no parent is perfect. But embracing each moment with a child-like creative spirit yourself can go a long way in your child’s development! Every little thing is exciting and brand new in a child’s eyes, and as their parent or caregiver, they look to you to teach them your ways in this world. This role is powerful! The connection shared between children and their caregivers is one of the most important bonds of their lifetime, giving every moment purpose.
Children’s communication development journey knows no bounds. At Lil’ People’s World, we show children each day that we are passionate about communication and supportive through their learning process while knowing their education continues far beyond the classroom.
Our Lil’ People’s World families and teachers align with the same mission to celebrate children’s curiosity and provide the guidance needed to continue its growth. We are so thrilled to be on this journey with you and hope you cherish each precious moment along the way!