03 Nov 2021
by Jules Pottle
Science Talk in the Early Years
Teachers are in conversation with children all day long. My voice is often croaky by the end of a school day, not through ‘teaching from the front’ but through being in constant conversation: listening, explaining, questioning, checking in with my children’s well-being. In educational settings, we are constantly communicating and using vocabulary. We clarify and refine what children are saying to us and sometimes we playfully get it wrong to elicit more conversation with the child. However, many homes are places where the voices our children hear most often are those on the iPad or TV. In addition, parents are often distracted from interacting with their children by their own lives. They may be unaware that their children would really benefit from engaging with them, face to face. So many moments of interaction are lost this way; so many words are left unsaid by parent and child.
When surveyed, post-Covid, by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF)*, many teachers reported that children were exhibiting a delay in their speech development having spent so much time at home during lock-down. 58 schools were surveyed. 44 of those schools (76%) reported that children starting school in September 2020, after the first lockdown, needed more support than previous cohorts and 55 of those schools (96%) reported that they were struggling with communication and language. In contrast, whilst 33% of parents were concerned about their child’s social and emotional development, only 3% expressed concern about their child’s communication and language - it was definitely not their priority.