What is a communication friendly environment?
When working in an early years setting it is a very common to think that everywhere should be filled with bright colours, hanging materials, 3D displays, print, text, images, posters and media. Also many practitioner fill silence by having a variety of music playing in the background; this is particularly true for the rooms catering for the youngest of children. The truth is all of this could in fact be hindering a child’s Communication and Language development, as it is creating a barrier to development instead of promoting it. A communication friendly environment takes into account children’s age and stage and often takes a more minimalist approach to colour, displays and background noise.
Imagine how distracting a hanging display can be to a child who is trying to develop eye contact skills or how a brightly coloured display background distracts what is actually is being displayed. A communication friendly environment allows all children the opportunity to interact, to speak/babble, listen and develop understanding. It is important when considering how to make your environment more communication friendly that you take into account any children who have speech and language difficulties or English as an additional language.
How to make a communication friendly space
Creating a communication friendly environment is easier then you might think and a few simple changes can have a massive impact on the communication and language development of the children you care for. Follow these simple tips below to make your room a more communication friendly space.
- Use hessian – Say goodbye to brightly coloured display backgrounds and replace with plain background colours or use hessian with a coloured border. This allows the work being displayed to be the main focus for attention rather than the brightly coloured background
- Use single words – Try adding some single key words of interest to display boards. This can promote communication and language as the single words are read to the child and have more meaning than long sentences.
- Light – Make your setting as light, bright and open as possible. This allows for better communication and language development by allowing better face to face communication and space for large and small group interactions building important social communication and language skills.
- Reduce the use of CD players – incorporate a slot into the day for listening to music with having clear learning intentions for the children. CD players create too much background noise and creates distraction. It also increases the volume of the room as the children become louder and louder to compete with the sounds levels of the CD. Children also gain a lot more from practitioners singing to them at slower paces with props rather than listening to a nursery rhyme CD.
- Routine – Have a clear and consistent routine so the children feel safe, secure and confident in their environment to develop in all areas of the EYFS including communication and language
- Use Visual aids – Widget symbols are a great tool to aid the development of those who are having communication and language difficulties or may speak a different language. It enables you to communicate more effectively with them and them to communicate more effectively with you. Create individual packs on key rings that practitioners can carry around the room, you may also like to display a visual timetable so all children know what is happening next.
- Planning – Plan to incorporate specific communication and language periods into the day. You may choose to do this through small/large groups, one to one, use the visual aids, songs, stories, specific strategies, or simply some quiet time.
By making some slight changes to your environment this may helps children’s Communicatin and Language Development