The importance of ‘Hello’

Lessons Learned from Abroad

I have recently returned from the trip of a life time; a long awaited trip to France to watch the Rugby World Cup with my husband and tour the south of France.  It is the first time we have travelled abroad since having children many years ago so was very special for us both.  I took quite some time off blogging whilst I was away and just soaked up as much as I could from being immersed in a different culture and language.

Not being at all proficient in the French language, I was interested to see first hand how powerful the simple act of saying ‘Hello’ was.

“Bonjour!” with a smile was the most important word for us to learn and use when travelling in France.  I am guessing that it may be the most important communication starter in any language….

The simple act of being able to greet someone with a smile and word (be that verbal or non verbal) helps to offer warmth, positive connection and a start to any social interaction.  We started with a greeting when interacting with  Uber drivers, those in cafes and restaurants who were pouring our coffee or serving us our pastries and with those who passed us by on the street or at the various tourist locations we visited

  1. Do we focus on teaching the social communication act of greetings with our children? 

I am sure we do but I will be doing so now with far more gusto and intention than previously.


We managed to ‘get by’ with ‘Bonjour’ and ‘Merci’ as our only French words.  These words started and ended many of our social interactions successfully and in a positive, warm manner.

Learning these simple, positive communication rituals early teaches children how to start a conversation with another human in an appropriate manner.  Often when a child moves past ‘Hello’ , they start to feel more confident to engage.  It certainly breaks down that first hurdle which is so important for our hesitant and less able communicators.

Saying ‘hello’ doesn’t have to be verbal.  It can be communicated with eyes, hands (a wave) or even your body.  If we positively interpret a child’s attempts to greet us in whichever way they are able to, we will encourage this behaviour to grow.

For those children who find that saying ‘hello’ feels awkward or uncomfortable, we can continue to model this when they are with us.  Resist the urge to pressure your children to say ‘hello’ as we want them to associate greetings with positive emotions; not with angst or fear.

  1. How can I teach ‘hello’?

You can start by making it your intention to explicitly model saying ‘hello’ to others when your child is in your presence.  Use an animated voice and happy smiling face as you do so that your child is more likely to notice and learn from your modelling.

You can prompt your child to say ‘hello’ to others but start with those communication partners that your child […]


Setting Goals for Communication Success in Early Childhood Settings

Let’s set some goals!

Hopefully all of you awesome Early Childhood Educators have all been taking a dive into The Chatterbox over the past few weeks and are now gradually becoming more confident in your capacity to accurately identify a young child who has speech, language and/or communication difficulties.

You are feeling equipped with knowledge and tips to broach the topic of a child’s possible delay with parents and/or caregivers and you are ready to start helping the child move towards achieving some goals.

If not, then STOP RIGHT HERE and read the last 3 issues of The Chatterbox!

We all know that,

in an ideal world, you would be working closely alongside a Speech Pathologist who has provided a comprehensive assessment of the child’s communication abilities and written a helpful report for you full of recommendations and simple suggestions for classroom implementation.

We also know that this scenario is, unfortunately, all too rare.

The demand for Speech Pathology services far exceeds the supply across Australia and our reports can be often full of jargon and confusing concepts for Educators and Parents alike.  Yes, this is an area that we need to work on as a profession I believe but I will leave that topic for another day!

Despite this, there is plenty that a dedicated educator can do to help get a child started towards making significant improvements in his or her speech, language or communication skills.

The first step is

to accurately identify the child’s area  of need as best you can.

Does this child have difficulties with social communication, play and understanding non-verbal communication?  Are your concerns more so related the clarity of the child’s speech?   Perhaps it is the child’s ability to understand language, respond to questions and follow instructions that is becoming of concern to you.  For another child, it may be that oral language is slow to develop.  Whilst their peers are speaking in sentences, this child may be still using short 1-2 word phrases or no language at all.

In many situations,  a child will have more than one area of their communication development impacted.  The key for Early Childhood Educators is to firstly identify that there is an issue and to then start to consider the functional impact of that delay or difficulty upon the child’s ability to function in the early childhood environment.  This will help you to then prioritise what you need to do first….what goals you need to work towards achieving for the child.  When not sure, it can be helpful to ask yourself “what will make the most difference for this child with the least amount of effort?”  Start with something really small and achievable but highly useful / of benefit for the child.

Of course, once again, if this child in question has a Speech Pathologist already involved then get involved.  Contact the Speech Pathologist and provide your much valued input about what is really impacting the child’s ability to engage and interact in your setting.  This will […]



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