Fostering Communication and Expression in All Forms

How Does Learning Happen? Ontario's Pedagogy for the Early Years

How Does Learning Happen? is organized around four foundational conditions that are important for children to grow and flourish: Belonging, Well-Being, Engagement, and Expression.

Expression or communication (to be heard, as well as to listen) may take many different forms. Through their bodies, words, and use of materials, children develop capacities for increasingly complex communication. Opportunities to explore materials support creativity, problem solving, and mathematical behaviours. Language-rich environments support growing communication skills, which are foundational for literacy. (How Does Learning Happen?, pg. 8)

"Connecting vs. Directing"

In "How Does Learning Happen?", Dr. Jean Clinton is quoted as saying "In authentic conversations, adults show respect for what the child is interested in and what the child is trying to communicate and are also willing to share their own perspective in a positive and meaningful way to continue the exchange." (pg. 41) She expands on this idea of "Connecting vs. Directing" in the following video clip and in the research brief "The Power of Positive Adult Child Relationships: Connection Is the Key" linked below.
Brain Development in the Early Years – Connecting with Children vs. Directing their Behavior

Opportunities to Explore Language & Literacy

Kindergarten classrooms are filled with opportunities for children to explore language and literacy such as "From 3 to 3" rhymes and oral stories. Emerging literacy is supported by providing open-ended materials that foster imagination and symbolic play, and by weaving language- and literacy-related activities and materials into all daily experiences, routines, and physical spaces. The Ministry monograph "Supporting Early Language and Literacy" linked below is a good read for thinking about this more deeply.

Creative Expression

Communication also happens through creative expression. Much has been written about the dichotomy between process- and product art. Below are links to articles from NAEYC - one about process art and one about music play. There are also links to videos from about creative learning areas.
Classroom Tour with Joanne and Julie: Creative Expressions Learning Area
Classroom Tour with Lianne and Suman: Kaleidoscope of Colours

After Hours "Hanen: Learning Language and Loving It"

On March 8th, Eva MacKenna and the Learning Language and Loving It ™ Certified members of the Let’s Talk it Up TLLP team​ will be sharing at an After Hours session. They will present strategies that have a positive impact on students’ oral language development. To register follow the link below. Please email Blythe directly if you would like to register after the link closes.


As quoted from Karen Callaghan “By involving ourselves in a constant inquiry into what we believe … we will be on a journey of getting to be better and better as teachers all the time.”

Each chapter of "How Does Learning Happen?" ends with questions to support critical reflection - the questions about "expression" are on page 45. Think about these questions...

Considering that children have “100 languages”, how many ways are there for children to express themselves in your program?

How can you make sure that every child, regardless of his or her communication abilities, is heard?

At the end of each day, ask yourself, “How much time did I spend connecting (direct and meaningful interactions)? Directing (telling children what to do)? Correcting (telling children what not to do)?” What is your C:D:C ratio?