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Language: The key to school readiness

The Key To Readiness

A recent study by La Trobe University’s Judith Lumley Centre found that 23% of Australian children entering primary school have failed to acquire the developmental skills essential for success in the school environment. It’s an alarming statistic. So what can parents do to overcome this challenge and what role does early childhood education play?

In pre-school ages, the development of language forms a vital role in the capacity to learn. This seems logical doesn’t it? Language is the system for children representing the meaning of things in their world.

Language has several forms, from the structure of sounds in words to the grammatical structure of sentences. Mastering these skills during pre-school years allows children to listen, understand and communicate confidently with others. Much of this learning comes about without formal instruction. The tacit nature of this learning, therefore, comes from the environments in which children exist. So, from this, we can see that a child’s surroundings, interactions and the observations they make are central to the development of language and all the life skills that language enables.

What can parents do?

Parents of young children can do lots to develop language through stimulating the development of vocabulary.

According to Mary Pat of talknua.com, there is strong evidence to connect vocabulary with a child’s later language and cognitive development. Children who have developed a larger than average vocabulary at two years of age, demonstrate stronger performance in maths, reading, and behavioural development at age five. A child’s vocabulary growth is considered to be directly related to their overall success at school.

There are many ways in which a parent can influence their child’s vocabulary. Two easy-to-do methods are: practicing using a wide range of words; along with picking subject matter that most interests the child.

  • Exploring word classes is effective and fun.
  • Nouns like dog, tree, floor and water
  • Verbs like talk, move, eat and drink
  • Adjectives like hot, cold, wet and dry
  • Prepositions like up, down, in and out
  • Feelings like happy, sad and tired
  • Pronouns like mine, yours, his and hers

The development of vocabulary in each word class makes it easier for children to find the words necessary to structure sentences and to understand the sentences they hear.

Talking about what interests the child most is highly engaging for the child. While the child’s popular interests are valid, being in the moment with the child is most powerful. By observing carefully, a parent can pick up on what has the child’s attention in that moment and use that as an opportunity to explore it in words.

Remember playing I Spy, as a kid? Making words fun is the aim when trying to accelerate learning.

The role of child care and early learning centres

Today, child care and early learning centres are required to cover a curriculum, known as The Early Years Learning Framework. This framework places a strong emphasis on play-based learning and recognises the importance of language.

Beyond the framework is the learning philosophy employed by individual child care centres. Of most importance is actual practices used along with all aspects of the environment in which the children learn and play.

The Reggio Emilia learning philosophy is recognised globally as an exceptional way for children to learn through discovery and play. A focus is placed on effectively leveraging the child’s natural and almost limitless opportunities to learn. Additionally, the careful development of environments in which children learn best, along with skills of the educator as a facilitator and collaborator are emphasised.


Language is a central element in the overall learning development and school readiness of pre-school aged children. Parents play an important role in language development and can improve their child’s language skills through practising a wide vocabulary with their child in every-day situations. Child care and early learning centres also play an important role. When choosing a centre, one should pay close attention the centre’s learning philosophy and the way in which the environment is created to bring the philosophy to life. This applies to both the centre itself and the quality of the staff who guide the child’s learning.


About Orchard Early Learning Centre

We exist to prepare children for a life of learning and wellbeing. There is nothing more important for your child than being safe, cared for and nurtured. And there is no better way for a child to prepare for life ahead, than by developing the ability to learn. Read more…  

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