Communication and Expression


Communication and Expression

Communication and Expression—Language includes the expression of ideas, feelings, wants and needs; equally important is the ability to listen, understand another person and follow directions. Children increase their language and communication skills by engaging in meaningful experiences that build their general knowledge about the world. Language Development; Literacy Development: Creative Arts and Expression; Receptive and Expressive Language; Social Rules of Language: and Dual Language Learners are the primary domains in this section.

Language Development

Language begins with the very first cries at the moment of a child’s birth and signals the beginning of communication. A baby’s early reflexive sounds develop into purposeful speech when she has a communication partner who listens and responds to her by opening and closing circles of communication, also known as “serve and return”.

Serve and return refers to what happens when children make a sound or express a need or idea, and adults respond with eye contact, words, and physical warmth to communicate “you are important and I want to connect with you”. Speech sound patterns, consisting of vowel and consonant combinations, eventually become functional words. 

Language includes the expression of ideas, feelings, wants, and needs; equally important is the ability to listen, understand another person, and follow directions. It also includes communicating with a social purpose in socially appropriate ways. Children increase their language and communication skills by engaging in meaningful experiences that build their general knowledge about the world. 

Children with language disorders, compromised hearing, or other developmental delays may use tools other than the spoken word to learn to communicate. Pictures, symbols, gestures, American Sign Language, assistive technology’ and other augmentative and alternative communication systems may be needed on the way to developing, or instead of, using typical speech. We want the same goals for children whose language and communication develop differently, although their pace and pathways may vary from children who are developing typically. 

The Vermont Early Learning Standards for Language Development include six Elements: Receptive Language, Expressive Language, Social Rules of Language, Dual Language Learners, Speaking & Listening, and Language. The latter two are taken directly from the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English Language Arts. The relevant indicators of the 2015 Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework, Ages Birth to Five are aligned with these Vermont Early Learning Standards.

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  • ElementsGoals
  • Receptive Language (Listening)Young children attend to, comprehend, and respond to increasingly complex language.
  • Expressive Language (Speaking)Young children use increasingly complex vocabulary and grammar to express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas.
  • Speaking and Listening (CCSS)Children demonstrate an increasing ability to comprehend and participate in collaborative conversations. Their ability to present information and discuss their ideas increases at each grade level.
  • Social Rules of LanguageYoung children initiate and maintain conversations with others while developing knowledge and use of the social rules of language.
  • Language (CCSS)Children demonstrate increasing knowledge and use of the conventions of Standard English and an ability to think about language. They gradually acquire a larger & more complex vocabulary and an understanding of word relationships and the nuances in word meanings.
  • Dual Language Learners—Receptive and Expressive English Language SkillsYoung children whose home language is not English, demonstrate the ability to listen, understand, and respond to increasing more complex spoken English.

Literacy Development

While our human brains are wired for language and communication, we become literate through a much more intentional learning process. Literacy includes the skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening, and using print to make sense of the world.

Exposure to oral language, storytelling, and book reading are essential experiences in the infant-toddler and preschool years and they lay the foundation for learning to read and write in kindergarten and the primary grades. Exposure to language and the written word gives children experience hearing and distinguishing between letter sounds, rhyming, word recognition, and concepts about print. They gain access to text and build content knowledge through read alouds and verbal interactions about text. As children enter the primary grades, literacy skills allow them independent access to content knowledge.

Very young children are gaining book appreciation skills and developing concepts about print when they are read to, allowed to turn the pages, and bring a book to a trusted adult who will read it with them. They learn that letters and words have meaning when adults point to a sign and say, “Oh look, it says EXIT. We can go out through that door”, or “Let’s make a list so we don’t forget what to buy at the store”. Older children use books and other print to gain information, and are exposed to increasingly more complex text delivered through simple technologies (e.g., pencil) and new technologies.

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  • ElementsGoals
  • Foundational Reading SkillsChildren develop the foundational skills needed for engaging with print, reading and writing.
  • Reading -- Engagement with Literature and Informational TextEngagement with Literature and Informational: Children develop "book language" and demonstrate comprehension
  • Reading -- Reading LiteratureChildren demonstrate knowledge of the key ideas and details of stories read to them and which they read, the craft and structure of literature, the ability to integrate knowledge and ideas, and to read a range of text with text complexity appropriate to their grade level.
  • Reading -- Reading Informational TextReading Informational Text: Children demonstrate knowledge of the key ideas and details of stories read to them and which they read, the craft and structure of informational texts, the ability to integrate knowledge and ideas, and to read a range of text with text complexity appropriate to their grade level.
  • WritingChildren demonstrate the understanding that writing is a means for communication. With increasing fine motor skills and experiences with literacy, children begin to use writing conventions.Children demonstrate their increasing ability to write various types of text for different purposes, organize their writing around a topic, participate and eventually conduct research to gather information to use in their writing about a topic.
  • Dual Language Learners—Literacy in EnglishYoung children, whose home language is not English, demonstrate an increasing ability to engage in literacy experiences in English.

Creative Arts and Expression

The domain, Creative Arts and Expression, is included within the Communications area of learning and development to emphasize the focus on the arts as an opportunity for children’s self-expression, exploration, improvisation, and another way for them to communicate their thoughts and feelings.

Vermont’s Creative Arts and Expression Standards for young children from infancy to third grade are focused on a process rather than a product approach. Adults facilitating children’s learning of the creative arts should focus on the process; so put away the patterns, the samples, the coloring pages, the step-by-step instructions, and instead provide materials and time for open-ended exploration of art materials, pretend-play scenarios, music, and movement experiences. Adults should acknowledge the child’s creative processes and emphasize the joy in these activities. Art materials should be available for visual and spatial learners; movement should be used as a learning tool as so many children are bodily-kinesthetic and physical learners at this developmental level; imagination and improvisation should be fostered to promote creative thinking and problem-solving skills; music can be in the background or at the forefront at various times of the day and can simply set the stage for the classroom atmosphere or be focused specifically on a skill such as building vocabulary.

Young children are holistic learners; the Creative Arts are an integral part of how children come to learn about their world. The creative arts are an often left-out segment of the curriculum for a variety of reasons, including financial constraints, the lack of confidence of the classroom teacher, or the prioritization of other areas of learning especially in grades K-3. There is evidence showing that the creative arts can support all areas of learning and should be employed as an instructional strategy across the continuum. Preschool children may use art materials to create a menu in a pretend restaurant scenario. Second grade children may communicate their understanding of simple math problems or scientific discoveries by drawing their processes and results. Children may communicate their understanding of a book through the visual arts or dramatization. Opportunities for creative arts and expression should be part of a young child’s daily routine; the arts allow children to communicate beyond the spoken word.

Vermont’s Creative Arts and Expression domain includes the Elements of: Visual Arts, Music, Theatre, and Dance. This domain is aligned with the 2015 Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework, Ages Birth to Five ; Vermont Grade Expectations (i.e., PreK-K, 1-2, 3-4), and informed by the National Core Arts Standards (i.e., PreK, Grade1, 2, 3). The Vermont Grade Expectations (GEs) for the Arts are presented in two grade level clusters (e.g., PreK-K, 1-2, 3-4) with the understanding that children meet the “expectation” at the conclusion of the higher grade level..

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  • ElementsGoals
  • Visual ArtsChildren create art using a variety of tools and art media to express their ideas, feelings, creativity; and develop appreciation of the art created by others.
  • MusicChildren engage in making and listening to music as a vehicle for expression and learning.
  • Theatre (Dramatic Play)Children engage in making and listening to music as a vehicle for expression and learning.
  • Dance (Dramatic Play)Children use movement to creatively express their ideas and feelings and to learn.

Vermont Agency of Education
Secretary Daniel M. French
219 North Main Street, Suite 402
Barre, VT 05641

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