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Reflecting on practice and provision – EAL in Early Years

Consider the information you gather from parents prior to their start date:

  • What languages are spoken at home?
  • What languages the child predominately speaks at home?
  • Collect key words and key phrases for staff to learn and use with children through their day.
  • Find out as much information as possible about the family background and religion in addition to the child’s likes and dislikes.

Consider your settling in process:

  • Is your settling in process flexible to support the unique needs of each child and family?
  • Do you include home visits or stay and play sessions to support positive relationships and attachments?
  • Do your EAL parents fully understand these procedures?
  • How do you support families with EAL?

Think about the quality of your learning environment:

  • Does it enable EAL children to thrive and make appropriate progress?
  • Are all children’s languages valued, promoted and displayed around your setting?

Quality of the relationships between key people, children and parents:

  • Are EAL children’s and their parent’s voices heard?
  • Are there constant opportunities for ongoing dialogue?
  • How do you overcome any language barriers that may exist?
  • Do you operate buddy systems for children and parents, matching parents/carers who share the same language?
  • Do you plan social gatherings for children and their families to help promote positive relationships?

How can I help parents with a child’s language development?

You can use the following prompts when talking to EAL parents about their child’s language development.

Children under two

  • How does your child communicate with you? Is your child using non-verbal communication? (Eye contact, pointing, understanding single words and following simple instructions).
  • Is your child using verbal communication? (Making sounds, babbling, saying single words or beginning to link 2 or 3 words together).
  • Does your child interact with you? (Does your child take turns by copying facial expressions, mimicking sounds, a simple conversation?).

Children over two

  • Tell me about your child’s language development in their home language? Have they reached their milestones so far?
  • What are your child’s listening skills like? (Is your child beginning to listen when interested, do they listen and join in with stories, songs and rhymes?).
  • Can your child follow simple instructions?
  • Does your child understand simple concepts? (For example, under, on, in, big, little).
  • How does your child communicate? (Is your child using many different single words, using simple or complex sentences, confident to speak to people other than close family or friends?).