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Lockdown effects on early language and communication

Our outstanding Head of Pre Prep, Ms Faye Green, has reflected on the recent BBC report regarding the negative effects of lockdown on speech and language skill development in EYFS.  Here’s what she has to say:

When all primary and secondary schools across England went into lockdown in January, our children’s development in prime areas such as speech and language was top of our agenda.  Keeping our preschool open was not a decision that we took lightly, but we knew that our children needed structure, their friends, and their teachers.

Preschool was a little world of normality, in which our youngest children thrived. Each time I saw them, there was enthusiasm, confidence, and happiness. Similarly, while we could not teach Reception in school, our remote learning approach evolved during lockdown to facilitate the children’s social and personal communication skills and continue to immerse them in a language-rich, enabling environment.

We implemented much more ‘talk time’ and longer sessions at the beginning and end of the day to allow our children to share their thoughts, chat with their peers and teachers, and participate in story time. Live specialist subjects (alongside live small group maths and phonics sessions) increased this essential contact further. Listening to parent feedback became even more pertinent, as parents knew what their children needed most.

On our return to classes in school, Reception have continued, with renewed vigour, to be immersed in a language- and literature-rich environment, with practitioners planning child-led play opportunities that promote rigorous communication and social interaction.  Today, our data tracking across Early Years for this academic year shows progress in all areas. Personal, social, emotional development, and communication and language show continuous progress, with no significant lockdown-induced gaps to plug.

But take away the data and the spreadsheets, the numbers and gap analyses, because the evidence it right there in our Preschool and Reception – in every question, every exclamation, every statement our youngest children utter. And that’s the best evidence of all, isn’t it?

If you would like further information on how we teach at Radnor House Sevenoaks, or would like to enquire with regards to places available in the school from September, please contact our Registrar Wendy Owens at wowens@radnor-sevenoaks.org or call her on 01959 563729

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