There are two easy steps that you as a parent or guardian can take to encourage speech and
language skills in your child;
1) Speak to and with your child, and
2) Sing to and with your child.
Even when your child is a baby, talk to them. Commentate what you do in your normal everyday life
for your child, for example if you are preparing a meal tell your child you are in the kitchen and tell
your child you are chopping up vegetables and you are using a knife and a chopping board. By the
age of 3 your child will understand approximately 500 words and simple, everyday spoken
interactions from you will encourage your child’s speech and comprehension.
the children I work with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is a firm favorite and I think the lyrics are the main reason for that.
Think about the lyrics: ‘Twinkle, twinkle’ - we all know what this means but it’s really hard to explain without using other words that mean the same thing such as ‘glisten’. ‘Little star’ – we learn what a star is and we learn that ‘little’ is opposite to ‘big’. ‘How I wonder what you are.’ - Children learn that ‘wonder’ is a deeper way of thinking that causes them to ask themselves questions. ‘Up above the world so high’ – Children are encouraged to look up and see what is there. ‘Like a diamond in the sky’ – Children learn to compare, and they learn there is something called a diamond. This facile, short nursery rhyme – and others like it – can lead to so many conversations between you and your child and thus give your child so much understanding of the world.
Children unable to communicate often development behavioral problems because of their frustration. In school and out of school, they are disadvantaged. They cannot express their needs, they cannot understand what is being said to them beyond basic sentences, they cannot receive education nor can they function in the workplace. There is a recognized correlation between a lack of communication skills in childhood and experience of the criminal justice system.
As a parent speaking to your child, you model speech; words, pronunciation, intonation and conversation skills. Expect your child to speak correctly and understand most or all of what you are
saying. Some children may know words and be able to put them into sentences, but they may not
know that speaking with another person means give and take – listening, thinking and then
responding to what the other person has said. By the age of five, children’s speech should be
understandable the majority of the time. Children who arrive at school with little speech or the
inability to form words correctly are not just at an educational disadvantage but also a social
disadvantage. Schools are places where children form most of their friendships, so it is crucial that
children arrive at school with as few impediments to conversation as possible. Speech and language
skills are vital for children’s self-esteem and confidence.
More than half of mothers work, and they work longer hours than in the recent past. Fathers have
become more involved in the care of their child, but the financial pressures upon families and the
pressures of the workplace can often reduce the amount of time parents have with their child,
therefore reducing the amount of input parents can give their child. There is nothing wrong with
using the ‘electronic babysitter’ – the television set while you relax, as long as this is used in balance
with real conversations. Television programs aimed at young children often teach basic language so
can be an additional resource in your child’s development.
If you think your child is struggling with speech and
Make Canadian Audiology linked – see below
Catherine Hume - 36 is a teaching assistant with over ten years of experience in UK and Belgium. She also has a background working in social care as well as writing factual articles and fiction.