Word Aware

At St Chad's, we are committed to ensuring that all of our children learn how to become great communicators.
 
Communication is the way we connect with other people. It underpins learning and development in children of all ages and is a skill that can always be developed and improved.
 
Learning a language is the most important thing a child will ever do. Young babies and children need to learn how to:
  • Understand what people are saying.
  • Use words and sentences properly.
  • Speak clearly.
  • Looks, listen and take turns.
People sometimes assume that speech, language and communication skills flourish no matter what. This is not the case. Children need adults to encourage and support development of their language and communication.
 
One of the primes areas of learning in the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum in England is 'Communication and Language'. Within Communication and Language the three early learning goals are based around: listening and attention; understanding and speaking. The focus on these areas shows how important it is that children develop good foundation skills in communication and language early on in their life.
 
Children's communication and language is 'everybody's business'. At St Chad's, we recognise that we are in a unique position as practitioners to support the development of communication and language skills for our young children.
 
We have recently adopted 'Word Aware' - a strategy that we use across the whole school to encourage the children to acquire new language and vocabulary. Before each curriculum theme, teachers think about vocabulary relevant to the subject being covered and split this into three levels:
 
  • Anchor words: These are words which would be expected to be known by the majority of children of this age and which come up in everyday life.
  • Goldilocks words: Not too easy, not too difficult but just right! These are words which are topic specific but are very important for understanding the topic.
  • Step-on words: These are words that are very specific to the topic but are not so important for understanding the topic and are less likely to come up frequently.

Through the Word Aware approach, vocabulary is taught is a sequenced, systematic and multi-sensory way. The sequence involves sound-related aspects (talking about the number of syllables, rhymes, initial sound etc.), meaning aspects (other similar – but already known – words, context, putting it into a sentence etc.) and multi-sensory aspects (acting it out, using a song or rap to reinforce the word, using a symbol to represent the word etc.). Our teachers have a “Working Word Wall” in their classrooms to display the words that have been targeted, and a “Word Pot” in which to put words when they come off the wall, so that they can be reviewed later.

Further information on Word Aware can be found here.