Communication: What's involved?

Communication: What's involved?

Communication is much more than words. Communication is the way we connect and interact with people. It is part of our identity and culture. It helps us to learn, interact with others and to make friends. 

Key points to remember

  • communication is the way we connect and interact with people
  • speech, language, social interaction and early literacy skills are all parts of a child's communication

Communication is much more than words

Communication is the way we connect and interact with people. It is part of our identity and culture. It helps us to learn, interact with others and to make friends.

Communication involves a range of many different skills. Children need to be able to:

  • understand what people say to them
  • use words and sentences to talk to get their message across
  • speak clearly
  • understand and use gestures, signs and body language
  • look, listen and take turns in a conversation

Speech, language, social interaction and early literacy skills are all parts of a child's communication. These parts develop together and support each other.

Diagram showing the parts of a child's communication

Communication is the foundation for learning and development

Communication is the foundation for learning and development and is possibly the most important skill a child will ever develop. Communication develops over time and children go through stages in their communication; some go through these stages quickly and some will take longer.

Communication development varies across languages and cultures. Many children live in homes where more than one language is spoken. This provides an opportunity for them to be multilingual and should be encouraged and valued. It is important for the adults around the child to use the language that they are most comfortable and familiar with as this will provide the best models for the child.1

We need to support children's communication development

Children need the adults around them to actively support and encourage their communication development. The more we know about how to support and encourage, the more we can help children develop their communication skills through play and social conversations in real-life situations. Te Whāriki, the New Zealand Early Childhood Curriculum, says that:

The relationships and environments that children experience have a direct impact on their learning and development.2

This section of the website provides information about children's communication development so you can think about how your child is talking and support them, using their skills and interests.

  1. Lowry, L. 2014. Intervening with Dual Language Learners. The Hanen Centre, Toronto, Canada.
  2. Ministry of Education. 1996. Te Whāriki. Wellington: Learning Media.

The content on this page has been produced in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and adapted from Much more than words | Manuka takoto, kawea ake (2014) (PDF, 565KB)

This page last reviewed 19 February 2018.
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