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.
Research suggests that of all the children in reception classes in UK schools, nearly half of them have poor language skills. This is an astounding figure and Early Years Practitioners are doing so much to attempt to help those children with their language and communication. The difficulty is not helped by the fact that children coming from nursery into schools are all at different levels of speech and communication so each child may need slightly different emphasis when it comes to helping their individual needs.
Communication is vital in various areas of development within the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). Communication is a two way process and we must listen as well as talk. Communication between children themselves is also important because if one child cannot be understood, it can lead to further problems and frustrations.
ICAN (the charity that supports speech and communication) claims that over 2.7 million children have difficulties communicating. There are various ways that teaching practitioners can assist with general group activities as well as individual attention.
How to improve communication with general group activities:
It has been suggested by Jean Gross, Communications expert and adviser to the EYFS Review, that the equal weighting given to the areas of the EYFS may do better if it were changed.
Currently the six areas of learning and development are given equal weighting throughout the age range it covers.
However, there is talk of changing the weighting especially in the younger age ranges. Perhaps there should be an increased emphasis in the personal, social and emotional development and the communication and language areas.
Ms Gross has in he past spoken about the importance of bonding and attachment between babies and their parents and the value of talking to your baby! ToucanLearn agrees and as our activities with babies demonstrate, there is so much you can do to start the "conversation" and bonding with your babies by simply chatting to them. They can't speak back to you, or contribute to a conversation, but they look, watch and listen and learn as you talk to them and involve them in your life! This can only be a good thing!
More research will follow and decisions will be made as to how, if at all, EYFS will change.
For many children, speech comes naturally - they babble sounds and copy words spoken to them, then they start saying a few words on their own and before you know it they are speaking in sentences and chatting to anyone who will listen.
However, sometimes they stumble over consonants and make errors especially if they get excited or are constructing a long sentence. They ask for some "ninner" rather than "dinner" or say "wellow" rather than "yellow". But this is perfectly normal. There is nothing to worry about .
For many, it is simply that they don't have the muscle co-ordination to enunciate properly. Or it may be a new word that they need to practice. Or they are just trying out a new sound. In each case, try not to make an issue of it. Just repeat the word back to the correctly. Do you want some Dinner? The ball is Yellow, isn't it.
Between 18 months and about 3, it is natural that toddlers will make mistakes. They are exploring new word sounds and beginning to remember which letter sounds make up which words. They may even correct themselves if a word doesn't sound right.
Once they hit three, most of their words should be perfectly understandable, with a few errors here and there.
If however your child seems not to talk much, or even never,then you should consult a GP just to ensure everything is OK.
If they are still making frequent errors by age six, you may wish to ask you GP about it, just to be sure. Speech problems, may hide a hearing problem or indeed a learning issue that a doctor can help with. A speech therapist can offer exercises and game sto help with muscle control and speech formation.
How do babies and toddlers learn to speak and acquire the knowledge to form sentences and become fluent communicators? Is it a natural skill they acquire or do they need help? Certainly children begin to learn to speak from the very day they are born. However, it is up to parents, to make sure they provide the children with the very best opportunity to learn to speak and communicate well.
How do they learn?
Types of Language
By nine months, babies can understand simple words and commands ('stop', 'come here', etc.) even if they can't speak the words themselves. This is because there are 2 types of language knowledge: Receptive and Expressive language. When we listen we use our receptive vocabulary, when we speak or write we use our expressive vocabulary.
A child's passive vocabulary is improved through continuous repetition of words and phrases. Once repeated enough it becomes part of their passive vocabulary. So, the active vocabulary can only be improved through use of the passive. A child has to hear a word 500 times before it becomes part of their active vocabulary, so a parent needs to speak as much as they can to their children and in front of their children.
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