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Communication – Children are effective communicators

Introduction to this Outcome

Children communicate from birth. Most children are innately social, creative and motivated to exchange ideas, thoughts, questions and feelings. They begin by using gestures, movement, visual and non-verbal cues, sounds, language and assisted communication to engage in the world and form relationships. Fundamental to this development is the understanding of how symbols and pattern systems work, and how they can be used to engage others. From birth, intentional communication is strengthened and broadened. Children learn to take turns in communication exchanges through their relationships with responsive adults, exploring sound and movement patterns, singing songs, reading stories, playing games and recording their thoughts and ideas.

Children’s wellbeing, identity, sense of agency and capacity to make friends is connected to the development of communication skills, and strongly linked to their capacity to express feelings and thoughts, and to be understood.

From birth, children’s first gestures and actions are the beginning of communicative competence. In the very early years spoken language emerges in response to role models around the child. Adults who spend time in one-to-one communication with very young children, verbalising and conversing with the child, with multiple back and forth exchanges, make significant contributions to the expansion of children’s vocabulary development.

Children are effective communicators. Their communication and self-expression take many forms including sharing stories and symbols from their own culture, re-enacting well-known stories and using creative arts, such as drawing, painting and sculpture, drama, dance, movement and music to communicate with others. They create and explore imaginary worlds through dramatic play and through artworks. They build a large vocabulary and are able to express ideas verbally and use a wide range of media. They recognise the function and value of visual elements and use them to symbolise meaning, for example using colour in painting to express emotions. Young children begin to explore written communication by scribbling, drawing and producing approximations of writing. They use digital technologies and multimedia resources to communicate, play and learn. They create and display their own information in a way that suits different audiences and purposes.

Victorian families and the communities in which children live are diverse. Maintenance of first language is important for children’s identity, wellbeing, communication and learning. Children can successfully learn English (or another language) as an additional language through exposure to the language, explicit modelling and language teaching, and appropriate time to acquire the new language. Children benefit when early childhood professionals have knowledge about the acquisition and application of an additional language and how this can vary. It is especially important for early childhood professionals to be knowledgeable about the ways children learn additional languages. This includes awareness of the stages of acquisition and recognition that children differ in their rate of acquisition and application of language. In school settings, children have opportunities to learn a range of languages. For some children this may be an opportunity to continue their first language, and for others the opportunity to learn a new language.

Children use symbols in exploration and play to represent and make meaning. They become aware of the relationships between oral and visual representations, and recognise patterns and relationships. They learn to recognise how sounds are
represented alphabetically and identify some letter sounds, symbols, characters and signs. As children continue to build their skills in reading printed text from left to right and top to bottom (in English language households), they use information in context from pictures and other sources to assist in making meaning. As they progress through this stage, children begin to self-correct when reading aloud and distinguish between texts that represent real and imaginary experiences.

As children learn and develop, access to print-rich environments, and contact with adults who model and respond to children’s oral and written messages, continue to strengthen the progression of learning. Children increasingly use conventional speech and writing, and simple punctuation. Over time, children learn to use and create simple texts about familiar topics and choose the content, form and vocabulary within their writing. As their skills advance, they accurately spell words that are frequently used and make use of known spelling patterns to make plausible attempts at spelling unfamiliar words.


VEYLDF Victorian Curriculum: Levels F – 2
Children interact verbally and non-verbally with others for a range of purposes

This is evident, for example, when children:

  • engage in enjoyable reciprocal interactions using verbal and non-verbal language
  • respond verbally and non-verbally to what they see, hear, touch, feel and taste
  • use language and representations from play, music and art to share and project meaning
  • contribute their ideas and experiences in play and small and large group discussion
  • attend and give cultural cues that they are listening to and understanding what is said to them
  • are independent communicators who initiate Standard Australian English and home language conversations, and demonstrate the ability to meet the listener’s needs
  • interact with others to explore ideas and concepts, clarify and challenge thinking, negotiate and share new understandings
  • convey and construct messages with purpose and confidence, building on literacies of home and/or family and the broader community
  • exchange ideas, feelings and understandings using language and representations in play
  • demonstrate an increasing understanding of measurement and number using vocabulary to describe size, length, volume, capacity and names of numbers
  • express ideas and feelings and understand and respect the perspectives of others
  • use language to communicate thinking about quantities to describe attributes of objects and collections, and to explain mathematical ideas
  • show increasing knowledge, understanding and skill in conveying meaning.

This develops, for example, when students:

Listen to and respond orally to texts and to the communication of others in informal and structured classroom situations using interaction skills, including listening, while others speak. English: Literacy (F)

Engage in conversations and discussions, using active listening, showing interest, and contributing ideas, information and questions, taking turns and recognising the contributions of others. English: Literacy (L1)

Identify, reproduce and experiment with rhythmic, sound and word patterns in poems, chants, rhymes and songs. English: Literature (L2)

Understand that spoken, visual and written forms of language are different modes of communication with different features and their use varies according to the audience, purpose, context and cultural background. English: Language (L2)

Experiment with different materials and techniques to make artworks. Visual Arts: Visual Arts Practices (F)

Use simple technical and expressive skills when presenting dance that communicates ideas to an audience. Dance: Present and Perform (F)

Respond to dance, expressing what they enjoy, and where and why people dance. Dance: Respond and Interpret (L1–L2)

Represent data with objects and drawings where one object or drawing represents one data value. Describe the displays. Mathematics: Statistics and Probability (L1)

Listen to others’ ideas, and recognise that others may see things differently. Personal and Social Capability: Social Awareness and Management (L1–L2)

Understand that there are different ways of asking for information, making offers and giving commands. English: Language (L1)

Explore different ways of expressing emotions, including verbal, visual, body language and facial expressions. English: Language (L1)

Sing and play instruments to create and practice chants, songs and rhymes including those used by cultural groups in the local community. Music: Music Practices (F)

Describe ways of making and keeping friends, including how actions and words can help or hurt others, and the effects of modifying their behaviour. Personal and Social Capability: Social Awareness and Management (L1–L2)

Children engage with a range of texts and get meaning from these texts

This is evident, for example, when children:

  • listen and respond to sounds and patterns in speech, stories and rhymes in context
  • view and listen to printed, visual and multimedia texts and respond with relevant gestures, actions, comments and/or questions
  • sing chant rhymes, jingles and songs
  • take on roles of literacy and numeracy users in their play
  • begin to understand key literacy and numeracy concepts and processes, such as the sounds of language, letter–sound relationships, concepts of print and the ways that texts are structured
  • explore texts from a range of different perspectives and begin to analyse the meanings
  • actively use, engage with and share the enjoyment of language and texts in a range of ways
  • recognise and engage with written and oral culturally constructed texts.

This develops, for example, when students:

Understand that a letter can represent more than one sound, and that a syllable must contain a vowel sound. English: Language (L1)

Understand that texts can take many forms, and that imaginative and informative texts have different purposes. English: Language (F)

Identify visual representations of characters’ actions, reactions, speech and thought processes in narratives, and consider how these images add to or contradict or multiply the meaning of accompanying words. English: Language (L2)

Identify rhyming words, alliteration patterns, syllables and some sounds (phonemes) in spoken words. English: Language (F)

Explore sound and silence and ways of using their voices, movement and instruments to express ideas. Music: Explore and Express Ideas (F)

Present media artworks that communicate ideas. Media Arts: Present and Perform (F)

Share feelings and thoughts about the events and characters in texts. English: Literature (F)

Children express ideas and make meaning using a range of media

This is evident, for example, when children:

  • use language and engage in symbolic play to imagine and create roles, scripts and ideas
  • share the stories and symbols of their own cultures and re-enact well-known stories
  • use the creative arts, such as drawing, painting, sculpture, drama, dance, movement, music and story-telling, to express ideas and make meaning
  • experiment with ways of expressing ideas and meaning using a range of media
  • begin to use images and approximations of letters and words to convey meaning.

This develops, for example, when students:

Understand concepts about print and screen, including how books, film and simple digital texts work, and know some features of print, including directionality. English: Language (F)

Recognise that sentences are key units for expressing ideas. English: Language (F)

Understand that punctuation is a feature of written text different from letters and recognise how capital letters are used for names, and that capital letters and full stops signal the beginning and end of sentences. English: Language (F)

Understand patterns of repetition and contrast in simple texts. English: Language (L1)

Create simple print or digital texts in the language and English, such as captions and labels, for the immediate learning environment. Non Roman Alphabet Languages: Communicating (F–L2)

Rehearse and perform songs and instrumental music they have learnt and composed to communicate ideas to an audience. Music: Present and Perform (L1–L2)

Explore ideas, experiences, observations and imagination and express them through subject matter in visual artworks they create. Visual Arts: Explore and Express Ideas (L1–L2)

Understand that language varies when people take on different roles in social and classroom interactions and how the use of key interpersonal language resources varies depending on context. English: Language (L2)

Use media technologies to capture and edit images, sounds and text. Media Arts: Media Arts Practice (F)

Children begin to understand how symbols and pattern systems work

This is evident, for example, when children:

  • use symbols in play to represent and make meaning
  • begin to make connections between, and see patterns in, their feelings, ideas, words and actions, and those of others
  • notice and predict the patterns of regular routines and the passing of time
  • develop an understanding that symbols are a powerful means of communication and that ideas, thoughts and concepts can be represented through them
  • begin to be aware of the relationships between oral, written and visual representations
  • begin to recognise patterns and relationships and the connections between them
  • begin to sort, categorise, order and compare collections and events and attributes of objects and materials in their social and natural worlds
  • listen and respond to sounds and patterns in speech, stories and rhyme
  • draw on memory of a sequence to complete a task
  • draw on their experiences in constructing meaning using symbols.

This develops, for example, when students:

Examine words that show reasons and words that show conclusions. Critical and Creative Thinking: Reasoning (F–L2)

Represent data and the location of places and their features by constructing tables, plans and labelled maps. Geography: Geographical Concepts and Skills (F–L2)

Recreate texts imaginatively using drawing, writing, performance and digital forms of communication. English: Writing (L1)

Understand that some language in written texts is unlike everyday spoken language. English: Writing (F)

Retell familiar literary texts through performance, use of illustrations and images. English: Literature (F)

Create short texts to explore, record and report ideas and events using familiar words and beginning writing knowledge. English: Literacy (F)

Children use information and communication technologies to access information, investigate ideas and represent their thinking

This is evident, for example, when children:

  • identify the uses of technologies in everyday life and use real or imaginary technologies as props in their play
  • use information and communication technologies to access images and information, explore diverse perspectives and make sense of their world
  • use information and communications technologies as tools for designing, drawing, editing, reflecting and composing
  • engage with technology for fun and to make meaning.

This develops, for example, when students:

Follow, describe and represent a sequence of steps and decisions (algorithms) needed to solve simple problems. Digital Technologies: Creating Digital Solutions (F–L2)

Use media technologies to capture and edit images and sounds and text to tell stories. Media Arts: Media Arts Practices (L1–L2)

Investigate number sequences, initially those increasing and decreasing by twos, threes, fives and ten from any starting point, then moving to other sequences. Mathematics: Number and Algebra (L2)

Recognise, model, represent and order numbers to at least 1000. Mathematics: Number and Algebra (L2)