Quarry School Place, Headington, Oxford, OX3 8LH


At Headington Quarry Foundation Stage School this year we would like our children to be:

To be a good listener and be able to express myself and understand others, however I communicate before they leave us. We have identified the steps of progression that the children need to take to achieve this. 

Communication and language
The educational programme for PSED in the Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Framework (2021) says: “The development of children’s spoken language underpins all seven areas of learning and development. Children’s back-and-forth interactions from and 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 more comfortable using a rich range of vocabulary and language structures.”

Headington Quarry Foundation Stage School is a language-rich nursery. Children’s literacy development is supported throughout the day through our focus on language, vocabulary, and communication.
Through their interactions, adults model language as they support children’s play, interests and explorations – modelling words linked to what the children are interested in, narrating what children are doing, introducing richer vocabulary etc. The key interactions we use are:

Talking together – observing, waiting, listening, following the child’s lead, echoing or copying what they do and say
Active listening – listening, maintaining eye contact while children are talking, using responsive expressions, pausing for thinking/processing time

Modelling – modelling actions and language to extend experience, modelling grammar, extending the child’s response

Descriptive Commentary – following the child’s lead’, saying what we can see the child doing or observing, match plus one (match what the child has said, plus one more

Instructional – using one positive instruction at a time, modelling developmentally appropriate language, giving children a 3 minute warning to go with the instruction

Language play – playing with sounds, words, rhyme and rhythm and meaning

Co-construction – learning together, extending ideas or thought when playing, adding the next part of the story
Backward chaining – positively say what the adult and child are going to do together eg “I will do…. and then you can…”, acknowledging achievement

Decoding meaning – making an effort to understand children’s understanding or point of view, making a clear statement of what the adult understands from what the child said.

Recasting – recasting the correct use of words that the child may have used incorrectly without drawing attention to their incorrect use)

Open ended questioning – using what, who, how, why, when, where questions to extend and challenge child’s thinking e.g. what will happen)

Sequencing – talking about what the adult or child is going to do, using words such as first, next and last

Choices – increasing children’s vocabulary by encouraging them to communicate their needs, providing opportunities for children to choose and make decisions themselves.

  • The early years are a unique opportunity to provide experiences which can build the architecture of children’s braindevelopment (1001 critical days)
  • “Children with poor vocabulary skills at age 5 are more likely to have reading difficulties as an adult, more likely to have mental health problems, and more likely to be unemployed.” (The EIF Matrix)
  • “It’s the early language skills which are the foundations on which reading well at school is based.” (Report of HM ChiefInspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2015)

Children need to learn to:

  • understand words, sentences and conversation
  • Learn how to talk using words and sentences (expressive language)
  • Sayspeechsoundscorrectlysothey can be understood by others
  • Know how to use their language socially (pragmatic language)

At Wheatley Nursery School we pride ourselves in having a communication friendly environment that develops all children’s language however they communicate.

We use a tool called WELLCOMM to assess where children are with their language development and then plan interventions to help them reach the next stage.

Through the children’s interests, fascinations and cultural capital opportunities we develop the children’s vocabulary and motivation for communication.

Below are some documents to help you support your children’s language development at home.


 Ages and stages (speechandlanguage.org.uk)