Children learn language by continually hearing language being used in context all around them - hearing language spoken clearly and properly will help them talk correctly themselves and will also help them learn spelling when they are older. Phonetics is all about spelling out the sounds that you hear, but if children aren't speaking words correctly, then they will find it more difficult to spell them.
For example, children dropping 'g' in words ending in 'ing' will not hear the 'g' when they spell phonetically and will omit the final letter in words like walking/walkin', talking/talkin' and so on. Children muddling 'th' and 'f' will be disadvantaged when learning to spell three/free, thanks/fanks.
If you hear your children mispronouncing words or sounds, then try to correct them early on so that they don't get entrenched with the wrong pronunciation which in turn could stifle their spelling and reading later on. Speak clearly and properly with your children and as they grow up, they will find it easier to talk clearly themselves, and in turn to learn spelling when the time comes to it.
2011 is the national year of communication; Hello is a campaign to promote the importance of children and young adults talking to each other and communicating effectively. Visit the campaign website at http://hello.org.uk/.
They maintain that communication is a skill to be learned and that it is a vital part of life. The statistics state that over 1 million children in the UK have a language, speech or communication problem. In poor areas, over half of the children begin school with language or communication problems. This makes school much harder for them and can lead to all sorts of struggles in later life.
Hello aims to help those children by providing resources for parents, carers and teachers. There will also be events throughout the country to support and promote the idea of good and effective communication.
ToucanLearn is very much in support of programmes such as Hello. One of our key skill categories is 'Speaking' where all sorts of activities, games and ideas are provided in order to help parents and carers encourage, entertain and also inspire children to speak and communicate more. For more information and great ideas, sign up at ToucanLearn where learning is fun for your and your little ones!
There are so many children and toddlers for whom English is not their first language; when it comes to observing these children in a childcare setting, whether it be a nursery or childminders, it is very easy for the carer to suggest that when it comes to communication, that the child has"no language". In fact, they do have a language, its just they are not using it or English in the setting, so carers need to be careful in these circumstances. Children need to be encouraged in both languages when they are little to avoid problems of alienation and isolation.
Why should parents, carers and teachers encourage bilingual children?
- It means the child usually knows about 2 cultures, 2 sets of traditions and 2 sets of rules for speaking
- It means they may be confused about different words or phrases which are used in different situations
- They can be scared to take chances when it comes to speaking or answering questions
- Making friends may be harder or even impossible if the other children can communicate more easily
- It may make the children more inclined to listen carefully and think about things or answers to questions even if they do not actually speak or contribute; they may still know the answer
How to help:
- Be calm and patient. Don't expect them to speak with the same confidence as children where English is the first language
- Allow them to listen and observe before addressing them with a question
- Speak to them just the same as you would other children; look into their eyes and address them with warmth and clarity; move your mouth to create the words and don't speak until you make eye contact
- Point and gesticulate too and use sign language to help communicate
- Sing lots of songs and rhymes together
- Keep any setting quiet and calm so everyone can hear well and communicate without shouting
Children learning more than one language at a time do generally start speaking a little later, but in the long term, but this does not mean that they will never learn to talk. In the medium term they will rapidly grasp both languages and they will have a beneficial skill that will put them in a strong position throughout their lives!
Many children stutter - it occurs when a child cannot articulate a word without repeating it over and over, or indeed repeating the first letter over and over before getting through the whole word. It is something they cannot appear to control or seem to overcome and is a common issue. Stutters may start young or seem to develop over time.
One form of stutter is known as Normal Disluency. This occurs around 2-6 years old. Most cases actually disappear by teenage years without any intervention at all. Sometimes it is just a stage or a trick the child is trying out to see what response they get. It is common and quite normal.
Why Does It Happen?
- The brain is unable to transmit the messages correctly.
- Genetics may play a role.
- Head injury or trauma in the early years.
- Environmental factors.
You may find that is stressful situations the stuttering gets worse, it be be worse after a big event such as the birth of a new sibling, moving house or school and is generally worse in boys. Children may have restricted vocabulary because they are nervous about trying new words so will keep to what they know.
If the stuttering last more than a 6 months or so, go to the doctor or health visitor for some advice. They may suggest a hearing and speech test. You may also be recommended to try speech therapy. This will help teach the child different ways to articulate and techniques to overcome any problems with word formation. Or counseling may be advised to help the child with any anxiety they may have or fears.
Help you can offer yourself:
- Try not to correct or interrupt your child when they talk. Ask family members not to correct or intervene either.
- Try not ask them to say it again "properly" or tell them to hurry up.
- Don't ask them to practice or draw attention to the issue.
- Make sure you speak slowly and carefully yourself.
- Talk a lot together and read lots of fun books.
- Try to reduce any stress or keep the child shielded from any problems there might be.
Children say the funniest things as they learn language and start speaking for the first time. Toddlers learn language simply by listening to spoken words all around them, and sometimes they mis-hear what has been said. This can give rise to mispronunciations 'sticking', for example spaghetti is often misheard as 'sketty' and we've heard 'gescalator' for 'escalator' and 'ninner' for 'dinner'! Toddlers learn language at a phenomenal rate, far surpassing the capabilities of the most advanced supercomputers. However, it's not true that young toddlers learn language through watching television. Recent studies suggest that until the age of two, babies don't associate words that they hear on the TV with objects outside of the TV in the real world. This means that although they may be shown a picture of a 'spoon' and hear the word repeated, they won't immediately make the link with a spoon right next to them, until they are a little older.
One of the most amazing capabilities that children have is the way that they learn what a 'dog' is, and then are able to look at a photograph of a dog, see a real dog and even see a cartoon drawing of a dog and associate all of these as being dogs. Try teaching a computer to do the same and you'll be training it for years!
The more you learn about the ways that children grow and develop, the more you will see in your own children. After birth, babies develop from the head downwards - first their head grows stronger, then their body, their arms and lastly their legs. Their larger muscles develop first (and therefore gross motor skills, or what we equate as Moving Activities) and then their smaller muscles (tuning their fine motor skills which are our Making Activities). As a member of ToucanLearn, our custom activity path will introduce activities to stimulate physical development from birth through to five years whilst at the same time, ensuring that you and your babies have fun! Two can learn much better than one!
Making, Moving, Learning and Speaking 20th May, 2009 All of the activities in ToucanLearn are categorised by a key skill, these are shown as Making, Moving, Learning and Speaking. These map to long established development skills, namely gross motor skills, fine motor skills, cognitive skills and communication skills. Although as a member of ToucanLearn you will have access to a broad range of activities, you can concentrate on nurturing specific skills by selecting relevant activities accordingly.
Click on Learning above to find out more detail about these development skills.