Appendix 3: Supporting oral language learning and development in early learning services

Table 1: Matrix of practice in early learning services

Well-focused early learning services (19 percent)

Early learning services with some focus (50 percent)

Early learning services with limited or no focus (31 percent)

> Multiple ways of knowing children.

> Ongoing and systematic gathering and recording of information about children’s oral language learning and development.

> Developing and maintaining relationships with parents and whānau.

> Valuing children’s home language.

> Having shared expectations for oral language development with some services using milestones, progressions or indicators.

> Oral language often a curriculum priority – as part of a literacy focus.

> Implementing a responsive curriculum that includes:

− a language-rich core connected to children’s and teachers’ strengths and interests

− opportunities for small group and 1-1 experiences

− routines that are valued as a way to support oral language development

− sustained rich vocabulary experiences

− planned strategies targeted to individuals and groups.

> Good awareness of research, readings and resources to support teacher practice.

> Professional learning and development, both internally and externally facilitated, accessed in many forms and on a variety of topics related to oral language.

> A strong focus on relationships with parents and whānau.

> Teachers knowing children through regular observations and listening to them.

> Valuing children’s home language.

> Variable understanding about oral language development (expectations) with reliance on individual teacher knowledge in some of these services.

> Oral language promoted as part of the curriculum through language-rich experiences and a mix of group and 1-1 interactions.

> In some of these services the main oral language focus was at ‘mat time’ rather than the multiple opportunities afforded by the rich curriculum.

> Some PLD in many of these services but it varied in the extent to which it focused specifically on oral language.

> Common for Speech Language Therapists to be working with individual children, offering workshops and providing resources.

> Some teacher discussion about children with oral language concerns.

> Some monitoring where children have Individual Development Plans (IDPs).

> Relationships with parents and whānau a key means to get information about individual children – mostly when child starts at service and often quite  informal.

> Yet to develop clear and shared expectations and understanding about oral language development.

> In many of these services the focus is largely on speech concerns rather than broader language development, early literacy and social interactions.

> Oral language is not an intentional part of the curriculum.

> Some inappropriate responses in these services that include activity-based and overly teacher-directed activities.

> Large group ‘mat times’ a feature of some services where ERO found children were disengaged or passive learners.

> Poor quality interactions were an issue in some services with a lack of rich conversations between children and between children and teachers.

> Limited or no PLD related to oral language.

> In a few of these services there was recent change  of ownership or ongoing staff turnover or  instability.

> Discussions about children’s oral language largely informal.

> Assessment practices not well developed.

ERO found that across all the early learning services in this evaluation:

> internal evaluation, research and reflective practice related to oral language was not strong

> few were building a picture of oral language progress over time in assessment  information.