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Church of England Community Academy Trust

Understanding (Receptive Language).

Once we have grasped how to pay and sustain attention, the next step in our language development is understanding Receptive Language, the language that we hear around us. 


Our attention skills and our Working Memory work together to recognise and recall words, sentences and the meaning of what others say.

There are strong links between what Practitioners call a ‘Communication Rich Environment’ and a child’s language development.


What is a Communication Rich Environment?

In the Communication Tree story, we saw how the tree needed soil to grow in.  The ‘soil’ was representing opportunity.     

In a Communication Rich Environment, there are plenty of opportunities for a child to hear others talking and describing. To experience others using making sounds, using words, joining them together to make sentences.  This will all stimulate the development of a child’s understanding of language.


Ways to create your own Communication Rich Environment.


Trips to the library/sharing a book

It is free to join the library and to borrow books.  You can join online, simply by following the following link.

Both Southampton and Shirley Library offer free story and rhyme time sessions. Adults and little ones can relax on chairs and beanbags, listen to a librarian read and then you can choose a book to borrow.  Shirley Library even offers Spanish Rhyme Time. 


There are often sessions for older children and sessions especially for people on the Autistic Spectrum.


Check out your local library.  They are fun and no one minds children making noise these days.  If books get damaged, in my experience, the attitude is that a Librarian would rather families are enjoying the books, with a risk of a little damage, than them being sat on the shelf!


If you can't get to a library, have a look at BorrowBox.  It’s the free online service that allows you to borrow books directly on to a smart phone,  tablet or electronic reading  devise. 

Play dates

Playing with other children is incredibly stimulating.  Familiar gestures; copying; experimenting with using language they have heard; using their imagination; turn taking and simply having fun!   


Boardgames and Jigsaw building together

Jigsaw’s have multiple benefits for the developing brain.  Not only do they encourage language, but spacial awareness; concentration; hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills (finger strength).

Boardgames like ‘Guess Who?’ Encourage describing and listening skills.  Both of which develop the understanding of language.   Libraries also have boardgame sessions and jigsaw time.   Look for details on your local library website.


Cooking together

Looking through recipe books and talking about the ingredients, makes cooking a lovely language rich activity.  Plus you may get something yummy to eat!   If you have the time, you could even incorporate a shopping trip to buy the ingredients. Listening, following instructions, sharing the direction in the recipe will all work towards developing your child's understanding of language.


Games to develop Working Memory                               

Thinking games like Spot the Difference, Bingo, Lotto, Pairs, Barrier Games and Kim’s Game all encourage the Working Memory to strengthen in children and adults alike. 

A stronger working memory will transfer to long term memory, all of that fabulous language being used in your Communication Rich Environment. 






To learn how the play Kim's Game, click on the link below and go to: 

School Videos

Speech and Language Games for Understanding.