Speech and Language in the Early Years

Communication and language is one of the three prime areas within the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). Each prime area is divided into early learning goals for communication and language. These are:

  1. Listening and attention – these skills support language learning and include the ability to discriminate sounds and maintain and monitor attention in a shared context.
  2. Understanding – young children gradually develop the ability to understand words in context, beginning with single words and building on this with phrases and more and more complex sentences.
  3. Speaking – this allows children to express their feelings, needs and wants, their thoughts and ideas and be able to talk about what has happened and about creative or imaginative events.

Supporting children with speech and language concerns

Practitioners in Early Years settings identify when children have an emerging need and they will implement strategies and activities to promote communication and language. They will monitor the child’s progress, and if the concerns continue and it is deemed more specialist advice is required, they will discuss making a referral to Speech and Language Therapy by using the Early Years Speech and Language toolkit. In some instances, an Early Help Assessment will be required to gain further information to ensure the right support is put in place.

Health professionals and Children’s Centre staff can also provide information on supporting Communication and Language and how to access support.

Read the NHS Speech and Language in early years [PDF, 186Kb] document for further information for parents.

Last modified: January 8, 2021