Working in a school is very rewarding but it can be sad when many nursery age children and some reception children do not have a lot of language. Yes children develop at different rates but some children come to school with no speech or at a one word level. This makes it so hard to communicate as the child is unable to communicate what they want, if they feel ill, if someone has upset them or even if they are happy. It eventually has an impact on them as they try to communicate. When they are not being understood they will eventually give up.
Finding a way to communicate is important and promoting language for these children. Some schools have introduced Makaton to ensure children can communicate things such as toilet or drink. During Makaton sign language, they have a sign to use and can use language when they feel confident with the sign.
It is still important to get the child talking and with support from home these methods could be successful at a faster rate if parents had some knowledge on how to promote language. In some households this may automatically be done however, due to the world we live in now some children are stuck in front of a tv or tablet on a daily basis and they do not get to experience real life experience, which has a big impact on their development.
It is not that parents don’t want to play, sometimes life just scoops us up in the busy lives we lead and we forget or don’t realise what children need. The amount of time I have said just watch the tv for a while and sit quietly please. Bad mum award! Using the tv as a baby sitter.
What can parents do at home?
- Provide play opportunities!
Playing with your child or even taking them to a mother and toddler group will provide them with opportunities to talk and socialise with peers their age. When children engage in play and they are interested in the play they feel the need to talk and often imitate us as adults. For example a child playing in a toy kitchen may imitate a parent or grandparent cooking, they may use words that they have heard in the kitchen such as “Hot.” This then allows the child to learn based on first hand experiences.
- Talk to your child during play
Whilst your child is engaged in play talk about what they are doing. “oh look your cooking a cake” or “Yummy that was delicious.” The child will listen and may copy what you say in one word or may say it the next time they play in a kitchen. You are then building on their vocabulary whilst they are engaged in play and they are more likely to repeat it the next time.
Think about the IPad or tv, yes they are hearing language but when are they getting the opportunity to use that language in real life experience?
- Build on their Language
When your child is playing or even exploring at home and they talk, repeat what they have said but with an extra word. For example “plate” You may respond ‘small plate’, ’round plate’ or ‘red plate.’ As the child begins to put more than one word, keep doing as before and repeat what they have said but with more language. This way the child is hearing alternative ways to say something and will most likely begin to copy what you are saying.
- Read to your child
I can not express how valuable reading to your child is, it is so easy to get wrapped up in our busy day to day lives and forget about sitting down and actually reading a story. When you read to a child you are building their vocabulary and setting them up for later in life when they begin to read and write.
If your child is not ready to sit and listen to a story, use that opportunity to look at the pictures and tell your own story or talk about what is happening. Your child may say “Chicken” You would respond “Chicken is walking” You have then built on their language.