278 – Enhancing language development in early education

Presentation - ECV2022-278

Enhancing language development in early education

Kathryn Marrington, Goodstart Early Learning, Australia (kmarrington@goodstart.org.au)
Tiffany Noble, Goodstart Early Learning, Australia (tnoble@goodstart.org.au)
Annie McAuley, TalkiPlay, Australia (annie@talkiplay.com)
Penny Markham, Goodstart Early Learning, Australia (pmarkham@goodstart.org.au)

Background: Language development is a crucial milestone in early childhood. Language is the basis of literacy development and poor language skills in early childhood have significant consequences for literacy attainment, extending well beyond the childhood years. As Australian children increasingly spend more time in long day care, it is imperative that these services provide environments to stimulate children’s language, particularly for those children who are literacy vulnerable. However, studies have shown that in long day care many child-carer dyad interactions are dominated by the carer with few opportunities for child-led participation in communication rich learning environments.

Aim: To trial an innovative approach towards improving literacy vulnerable children’s participation in language interactions in an early education setting.

Method: A longitudinal case study to assess literacy vulnerable children (Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD)) with nine educators, pre and post intervention using quantitative and qualitative measures. Trials were undertaken involving approximately 600 children aged 2–6 years in two Goodstart Early Learning centres located in low socio-economic regions in Victoria, Australia. The centres’ environment was purposefully altered using interactive ‘talking stickers’ attached to objects, in conjunction with child-led play techniques. Children interact with the ‘talking stickers’ in their environment to discover new words, sentences, and songs relating to objects.

Results: When comparing pre to post intervention measures, literacy vulnerable children showed an increase in child-led interactions and sustained more frequent and longer interactions with peers and educators. Educators observed that the change in the physical space sparked children’s imaginations, encouraged peer-to-peer social interaction, and promoted the child’s sense of agency in their own world.

Conclusions: This innovative approach improved language interactions for literacy vulnerable children in an early learning environment.

Implications for children and families: This program purposely fosters educator and peer interactions to support children’s language and early literacy development.

Implications for professionals: This program enables educators to provide a language rich learning environment for all children of all abilities, specifically those with language delay.

Funding: Goodstart Early Learning 2019

Key words: communication, early literacy, education, children’s voices, innovations, wellbeing, health, vulnerable communities, regional/rural communities, international communities, qualitative methods, quantitative methods

This presentation relates to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

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