Special communication, language and literacy bulletin

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Early years bulletin

1 November 2022


In this edition of the bulletin, we will be exploring the role of digital learning and how if used effectively, it can enhance children's communication, language and literacy skills. Our young children today, are born into a world where technology is growing at an increasingly fast pace. You will have seen 2 year olds confidently swiping and scrolling through adults' phones and tablets. You may be worried about the amount of 'tech time' young children have, or the lack of other opportunities they have access to, as a result of screen time. Let's use technology to support learning and development and consider how we can support children in the early years to become 'digitally literate' citizens.


When used appropriately and with an adult supporting, technology can be a powerful tool to engage children, hold their attention and promote learning. As with everything, using technology in moderation and keeping a careful check on screen time is essential. And of course, ensuring the viewing and content is age appropriate. Find ways to share with parents this key message from the National Literacy Trust:

"Just like a book, technology is used as a tool for learning and play, rather than as a replacement for adult interaction".

This information has been taken from the Words For Life website (to see the full article click here).

Consider how you can share this with parents and carers so that the home learning environment can be wisely enhanced if technology is used.

Look out for technology that can support your 3 to 5 year old to:

  • Play more complicated games
  • Listen to and repeat longer stories, songs and rhymes
  • Share with others
  • Make up their own stories or games
  • Link sounds to letters, eventually helping them to read
  • Begin to write letters, words and short sentences

Skype and other video messaging services can provide great opportunities for your child to develop their listening, attention and speaking skills.

Try to be around to help your child understand what is going on when they are using technology.

Other useful resources


Nothing can replace the first-hand experience of a trip to the farm or the visit into the setting by the fire engine. But when you can't have that first hand experience and you want children to understand the world around them and have a context for learning new words and enhancing their vocabulary, showing a clip digitally can support. In the video below children are introduced to the astronaut Tim Peake using the interactive whiteboard. A range of active learning experiences develops from that starting point.

View the video here


Share the link below of a short clip of children and parents using tablets TOGETHER to learn and develop communication and language. The first clip has a voice over and you can hear the parent and child interacting. The second clip has subtitles, but shares the same key messages.

Using tablets to support communication, language and literacy on Vimeo

Using tablets to support communication, language and literacy on Vimeo

The National Literacy Trust also provides guides for parents on selecting the best and most appropriate apps to use alongside their child.

The National Literacy Trust has also produced this video from Harington Nursery School, to demonstrate how practitioners have worked in partnership with parents to explore technology.


The Portsmouth Early Years Team are working closely with the city's new Head of Digital Learning, Education and Innovation. Soon we will be sharing practical ideas so that you can audit your current technology in your setting and reflect on how you can further enhance the use of technology. You don't have to invest in interactive whiteboards, technology in the early years is about small handheld tools like cameras, torches, walkie talkies, calculators. The images above represent just some of the kinds of technology our children could be using and exploring.


Foundation Years is pleased to share with you their latest vodcast taking a look at the topic of online safety in the early years. In our ever-increasing digital world, young children have access to devices, both at home and in early years settings. This often causes concern over the amount of screen time young children have, the negative impact of this and the risks associated with young children using devices.

Early years practitioners play an essential role in helping young children learn the foundations of safe online behaviour, supporting parents and children to recognise the value of technology and use it safely. In this vodcast, Gill Holden, Principal Officer of the Early Childhood Unit at the National Children’s Bureau, speaks to Sue Asquith, an Early Years Consultant, to discuss this and offer some practical tips for practitioners working with young children.

Towards the end of the vodcast, Sue recommended a number of free resources that can help managers and practitioners in this area, which you can find below:

Watch the vodcast here

Any questions about the content of this email? Get in touch