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EIF maturity matrix: Speech, language and communication in the early years

This is a self-assessment tool to support a system-wide approach to improving outcomes for children in the early years, with a focus on speech, language and communication skills.

Maturity matrix

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The early years are a critical time for all children to develop strong cognitive, social and emotional foundations. Early language acquisition impacts on all aspects of young children’s development. It contributes to their ability to manage emotions and communicate feelings, to establish and maintain relationships, to think symbolically, and to learn to read and write.

As speech and language is both an essential building block for a range of cognitive and social and emotional skills, and predictive of a range of later-life issues. This means it is an excellent way of assessing typical development in the early years – a primary indicator of child wellbeing and social mobility.

In this document you will find: 

  • A brief overview of the evidence on early language development.
  • An introduction to using a systemic approach to improve speech, language and communication outcomes for children.
  • Descriptors for 10 key elements which make up an early intervention system which is focused on speech, language and communication outcomes for children in the early years.
  • A recording sheet, user guide and single-page summary of the maturity matrix.

Summary of the matrix (click to expand)

About the contributors

Ben Lewing

Ben is a senior adviser at EIF.

Kirsten Asmussen

Kirsten is head of what works, child development, at EIF.

Jessica Ford

Jessica Ford is a Policy Adviser and Staff

Jean Gross CBE

Jean is an EIF associate.