Language, learning and play

Did you know? All children learn more in the period from birth to five years old than any other time in their life.

For your child to get the best start they need to be able to speak and communicate well-Language and communication skills are the building blocks of all learning. They also need to be curious, be able to explore the world and be able to make sense of numbers.

They will learn and develop these skills through playing, exploring, being active, being creative and being asked questions to help their thinking.

Your child takes everything in, and even the smallest things you do with them can make a big difference. Your child will learn best through loving caring relationships

All children have different needs and abilities. If you’re worried about your child or you have any questions about their development, you can ask your Health Visitor, early years setting, or call in at a Start Well site.

Check how your baby or child is getting on with their speech, language and communication development using the ICAN progress checker.

Getting ready for school

Getting ready for school starts before birth and continues to the age of 5. Being ‘school ready’ means that your child is ready to take part in learning experiences when they start primary school. This encourages children to become lifelong learners.

How can I support my child?

Your child will love it when you chat, play, sing and read with them, even when they’re too young to understand everything!

The key to early learning is talking. Chatting is free, simple but so important!

Every small interaction between you and your child is a great opportunity to fill your child’s world with words. 

Commenting on what your child is  interested in or doing and repeating back what they say, adding a few new words is a great way of showing your child how to take turns in a conversation as well as building their language.

Top Ten tips for talking

5 simple ideas for chatting with your child

  • Offer your child choices at meal or snack times. This is a great way of learning new words. You can also talk to your child about tastes, colours and textures while the eat.
  • Talk to your child about what they are doing for 5 minutes without asking a question. You could set a timer on your phone- it’s harder than it sounds!
  • Let your child help with the washing up. Talk about what you are doing, what it feels like, what it smells like and name the items you are washing.
  • Do a scavenger hunt in the park. Ask your child to find things such as a leaf and talk about where they will find them. You can make it more of a challenge by adding extra words e.g. ‘a brown, crunchy leaf’
  • Name clothes and body parts when you are getting dressed. Talk about what goes on next and describe what you are doing and what the clothes are like.

Children learn valuable life skills and behaviours through play. This is how they learn about objects, other people and relationships.

Playing with your child doesn’t always mean using children’s toys. You can be playful with things you have around your home or find when you are out and about.

Whatever the time and wherever you are, you can turn almost anything into a game. And every little thing you do together will help set them up nicely for the day they start school.

5 simple ideas for playing with your child

  • Play hide and seek or hide an object- inside or outside. This will help your child to follow instructions and take turns
  • Play a copying game together. Ask your child to copy clapping, dancing, actions or funny noises! This will help your child to learn how to take turns when they are interacting.
  • Raid the recycling for empty boxes! you can use these to stack on top of each other into a tower. Your child may really enjoy knocking them down! You can count the boxes and talk about where you put them- ‘on top’ ‘next to’ ‘underneath’
  • Pairing socks. You can get your child involved with matching up some odd socks. This is a great way to talk about colours, size and matching.
  • Find 5 different things to do with a stick! magic wand? mud stirrer? wrap it with string? your imagination is the limit.

Sharing a book with a child is a time for closeness, laughing and talking together. It can also give children a great start in life and help them become lifelong readers.

Sharing lots of different types of books and stories is a great way of helping your child to understand the wider world and introduce lots of new words.

The Booktrust website has some great tips for reading with your child.

5 simple ideas for reading with your child

  • Make a reading den. Use cushions and blankets to make somewhere cosy to share stories with your child. You could make a reading indoors or outdoors
  • See how many different shop signs and logos you can see when you are out and about. Point them out and talk about them with you child.
  • Join your local library. Libraries are full of great advice and recommendations and lots of great books! You can plan a visit with your child and let them choose the books they would like
  • Get the whole family involved. Storytime is something that everyone can enjoy, and it’s a great way to bond. Older children may be able to read to their younger siblings
  • Look at the pictures in a book and talk about what is happening with your child. You don’t have to always stick to the words and it’s OK to flick backwards and forward through the pages or even start again! This is a great way of keeping your child engaged with a book.

Your baby’s  hearing starts to develop from about 16 weeks into pregnancy and they start to pick up on vibrations and the ups and downs of voices outside the womb.

Your child loves hearing your voice! Singing and saying rhymes is a great way to bond with your little one and introduce the type of language that you wouldn’t necessarily use on a daily basis. The more words they hear the easier it is for them to recognise words in the future. You can sing at home, in the car or out and about. Singing is free and fun!

Singing songs with actions in helps improve your child’s coordination skills and lots of eye contact while you sing is great for developing your child’s social communication. There are lots of songs and rhymes that will support your children develop a sense of number.

You can access a whole library of nursery rhymes and songs on the BBC website

5 simple ideas for singing with your child

  • Sing about what you are doing. The mulberry bush tune is great for this- “ this is the way we brush our teeth/wash our hands/ go to the park/tickle daddy!”
  • Choose a song for the week. Children love hearing their favourite songs over and over again. It can really boost their confidence to repeat the same songs and rhymes and helps them to remember more of the words.
  • Sing in the bath! Bath time is great time for singing. You could sing row, row, row your boat and use something that floats
  • Make a home-made shaker using rice or pasta and a cardboard tube to shake while you sing. The actions of shaking will help your child explore the rhythm of the words and help them to develop attention and listening.
  • Check Out the Tiny happy people Greater Manchester Nursery Rhyme book -traditional nursery rhymes with a Manchester twist to inspire you to chat and sing with your baby and introduce them to new sounds and words.

Language, learning and play

Did you know? All children learn more in the period from birth to five years old than any other time in their life.

For your child to get the best start they need to be able to speak and communicate well-Language and communication skills are the building blocks of all learning. They also need to be curious, be able to explore the world and be able to make sense of numbers.

They will learn and develop these skills through playing, exploring, being active, being creative and being asked questions to help their thinking.

Your child takes everything in, and even the smallest things you do with them can make a big difference. Your child will learn best through loving caring relationships

All children have different needs and abilities. If you’re worried about your child or you have any questions about their development, you can ask your Health Visitor, early years setting, or call in at a Start Well site.

Check how your baby or child is getting on with their speech, language and communication development using the ICAN progress checker.

Getting ready for school

Getting ready for school starts before birth and continues to the age of 5. Being ‘school ready’ means that your child is ready to take part in learning experiences when they start primary school. This encourages children to become lifelong learners.

How can I support my child?

Your child will love it when you chat, play, sing and read with them, even when they’re too young to understand everything!

The key to early learning is talking. Chatting is free, simple but so important!

Every small interaction between you and your child is a great opportunity to fill your child’s world with words. 

Commenting on what your child is  interested in or doing and repeating back what they say, adding a few new words is a great way of showing your child how to take turns in a conversation as well as building their language.

Top Ten tips for talking

5 simple ideas for chatting with your child

  • Offer your child choices at meal or snack times. This is a great way of learning new words. You can also talk to your child about tastes, colours and textures while the eat.
  • Talk to your child about what they are doing for 5 minutes without asking a question. You could set a timer on your phone- it’s harder than it sounds!
  • Let your child help with the washing up. Talk about what you are doing, what it feels like, what it smells like and name the items you are washing.
  • Do a scavenger hunt in the park. Ask your child to find things such as a leaf and talk about where they will find them. You can make it more of a challenge by adding extra words e.g. ‘a brown, crunchy leaf’
  • Name clothes and body parts when you are getting dressed. Talk about what goes on next and describe what you are doing and what the clothes are like.

Children learn valuable life skills and behaviours through play. This is how they learn about objects, other people and relationships.

Playing with your child doesn’t always mean using children’s toys. You can be playful with things you have around your home or find when you are out and about.

Whatever the time and wherever you are, you can turn almost anything into a game. And every little thing you do together will help set them up nicely for the day they start school.

5 simple ideas for playing with your child

  • Play hide and seek or hide an object- inside or outside. This will help your child to follow instructions and take turns
  • Play a copying game together. Ask your child to copy clapping, dancing, actions or funny noises! This will help your child to learn how to take turns when they are interacting.
  • Raid the recycling for empty boxes! you can use these to stack on top of each other into a tower. Your child may really enjoy knocking them down! You can count the boxes and talk about where you put them- ‘on top’ ‘next to’ ‘underneath’
  • Pairing socks. You can get your child involved with matching up some odd socks. This is a great way to talk about colours, size and matching.
  • Find 5 different things to do with a stick! magic wand? mud stirrer? wrap it with string? your imagination is the limit.

Sharing a book with a child is a time for closeness, laughing and talking together. It can also give children a great start in life and help them become lifelong readers.

Sharing lots of different types of books and stories is a great way of helping your child to understand the wider world and introduce lots of new words.

The Booktrust website has some great tips for reading with your child.

5 simple ideas for reading with your child

  • Make a reading den. Use cushions and blankets to make somewhere cosy to share stories with your child. You could make a reading indoors or outdoors
  • See how many different shop signs and logos you can see when you are out and about. Point them out and talk about them with you child.
  • Join your local library. Libraries are full of great advice and recommendations and lots of great books! You can plan a visit with your child and let them choose the books they would like
  • Get the whole family involved. Storytime is something that everyone can enjoy, and it’s a great way to bond. Older children may be able to read to their younger siblings
  • Look at the pictures in a book and talk about what is happening with your child. You don’t have to always stick to the words and it’s OK to flick backwards and forward through the pages or even start again! This is a great way of keeping your child engaged with a book.

Your baby’s  hearing starts to develop from about 16 weeks into pregnancy and they start to pick up on vibrations and the ups and downs of voices outside the womb.

Your child loves hearing your voice! Singing and saying rhymes is a great way to bond with your little one and introduce the type of language that you wouldn’t necessarily use on a daily basis.. The more words they hear the easier it is for them to recognise words in the future. You can sing at home, in the car or out and about. Singing is free and fun!

Singing songs with actions in helps improve your child’s coordination skills and lots of eye contact while you sing is great for developing your child’s social communication. There are lots of songs and rhymes that will support your children develop a sense of number.

You can access a whole library of nursery rhymes and songs on the BBC website

5 simple ideas for singing with your child

  • Sing about what you are doing. The mulberry bush tune is great for this- “ this is the way we brush our teeth/wash our hands/ go to the park/tickle daddy!”
  • Choose a song for the week. Children love hearing their favourite songs over and over again. It can really boost their confidence to repeat the same songs and rhymes and helps them to remember more of the words.
  • Sing in the bath! Bath time is great time for singing. You could sing row, row, row your boat and use something that floats
  • Make a home-made shaker using rice or pasta and a cardboard tube to shake while you sing. The actions of shaking will help your child explore the rhythm of the words and help them to develop attention and listening.
  • Check Out the Tiny happy people Greater Manchester Nursery Rhyme book -traditional nursery rhymes with a Manchester twist to inspire you to chat and sing with your baby and introduce them to new sounds and words.

Find a range of useful info in our A-Z listing

Go to the A-Z listing

Find a range of useful info in our A-Z listing

Visit our online childcare directory

Find a range of useful info in our A-Z listing

Go to the A-Z listing

Find childcare in your area

Visit our online childcare directory

Find childcare in your area

Visit our online childcare directory