Communication Friendly Environments 

We all use many ways to help in understanding and communicating things other than just using the spoken word.

A Communication Friendly Environment (also know as a Total Communication Environment) builds on these natural ways to support a child’s communication development.

Here are some examples of how we communicate without words:

  • Facial expression – a smile tells your child you are pleased with them
  • Tone of voice – use a soft, low voice to calm and sooth a hurt child
  • Pointing /looking – you can show where something is by pointing or looking at it
  • Gesture/ action – holding your arms out to say ‘ let’s have a hug’  or pretending to have a drink to say it’s drink time
  • Using real objects -  showing food/ drink or toys to choose from
  • Pictures/ symbols – red man/ green man shows when to cross the road, recognising the McDonalds logo!

Why do we need a communication friendly environment?

  • To help children to understand things that are said to them
  • To help you to understand what your child is telling you
  • To help to reduce frustration, anxiety or challenging behaviour caused by not understanding the spoken language they hear.
  • To support attention and listening skills

How to make your environment more communication friendly

  • Use more gestures and Makaton e.g. beckoning somebody to ask them to come to you, pointing and looking more
  • Try using sandtimers to let a child know how long the have to continue with particular activity
  • Show pictures and symbols e.g. using pictures of places to show where you’re going
  • Have pictures or symbols of different activities on a choosing tube
  • Change your tone of voice and facial expression to add meaning to what you say e.g. ask a question and have a puzzled expression on your face

Click here for a printable advice sheet on how to create a communication friendly environment in your setting.