Are modern children losing the art of conversation? Are they too distracted to listen? Have they lost key skills through too much time on computer games and devices? Are they able to listen to an opinion and then give their own? Communication skills are an essential part of learning and a topic hotly debated as the exponential growth of technology offers adults and children improved communication tools which can also be an unwelcomedistraction.

In my experience, children have not lost the art – they are ‘hardwired’ from birth to develop the key skills of communication. However, in today’s busy world we do need to put an extra emphasis on ensuring that children get as many opportunities to develop these vital skills as possible in amongst all the exciting activities they do. Communication is, of course, one of the prime areas in the Early Years curriculum and it is always a delight being with young children and seeing their speech and listening skills develop and flourish through our many exciting and lively activities. In Kindergarten (our Pre-School year) for example, the Michaelmas Term curriculum puts great emphasis on listening, with many activities specifically geared towards children developing greater skills in preparation for the Jolly Phonics programme, such as role play, games and through the listening modelled by the adults around them. By the time children reach Year Two they amaze me with their astute comments on their work, their deep thoughts when discussing complex subjects (for example Remembrance Day) and their vocabulary when writing amazing stories.

At home all your verbal interactions withyour children build their word power and communication skills – even seemingly small things such as asking about the school day, chatting in the car, listening and discussing their reading book or library book, talking about activities at meal times, taking turns to talk and listen.

These are all vital building blocks for reading, writing and the foundations for becoming an independent, eloquent and well-rounded little person. I love listening to our little Squirrels – especially when children pop into my office to tell me how the day is going or what they did at the weekend. I encourage you to seize all the moments you can to develop these essential skills no matter how small – you will certainly notice a big difference!