Yesterday a survey by OnePoll for I CAN, the children’s communication charity, and Openreach revealed that children in the UK are suffering as the recession forces parents to take extra work.
According to the findings the recession has forced 81% of parents in London (72% of British parents nationally) to take on extra work to make ends meet putting pressure on home life and time with children. Worryingly, parents surveyed said this impacts on the time that they have to talk and interact with their child aged 0-5 years, which could potentially impact on their child’s communication development and their school readiness. Evidence shows that children’s understanding and use of vocabulary at 2 is very strongly associated with their performance on entering primary school. More than 50% of children start school without the communication skills they need to achieve particularly in some areas of social deprivation within the UK.
Key stats from survey in London:
• Over a third are working longer hours, one-fifth have found themselves with no option but to take on a second job and a quarter of parents surveyed are now doing extra work from home.
• More than half (57%) say they have less quality time with their children as a result of their work.
The survey shows that parents of children 0-5 years old, understand the importance of regular, quality conversation with their children. However:
• 44% say they rarely have time to talk these days and blame increased workloads.
• 20% are too tired to chat with their children by the time they get home from work.
• Around a third state that either answering work calls or responding to emails often interrupts attempts to chat with their children.
• Although parents in London recognise mealtimes as one of the key occasions to engage in conversation with young children, nearly 40% are regularly missing out on these meals due to work commitments.
The survey aims to encourage as many families, nurseries, child minders, children’s groups and others across London to register and take part in I CAN’s Chatterbox Challenge 2012 ‘Kids in Motion: Get Active and Make Chatter Matter’. the 11th annual Chatterbox Challenge, from 1-7th February 2012. The Chatterbox Challenge, developed by speech and language therapists, aims to develop children’s communication skills, through songs and rhymes, in homes, nurseries and childminding groups across the country.”
With support from Openreach, donations raised during the Chatterbox Challenge go directly to I CAN’s work with children with speech, language and communication difficulties. I CAN aims to ensure that no child is left out or left behind because of a difficulty speaking or understanding.
Kate Freeman, I CAN Communication Lead Advisor says, ‘There are many quick and simple ways to help your child’s communication and we’ve put together 10 tips on building talking and singing into a busy day’:
10 TIPS FOR DEVELOPING SPEECH, LANGUAGE AND COMMUNICATION
GET YOUR CHILD’S FULL ATTENTION FIRST
Get down to the child’s level and engage their attention before speaking or asking a question – say their name to encourage them to stop and listen. Talking about what your child is interested in will also help to gain their attention.
MAKE LEARNING LANGAUGE FUN
Funny voices, rhymes, noises and singing all help children to learn language. Be silly – often the daftest things gain their attention
IMITATE CHILDREN’S LANGUAGE
With very young children, simply repeat back sounds, words and sentences. This demonstrates that you value all they say. This can be anything from “ba” to “Oh, you liked the apple?”
USE A FULL RANGE OF EXPRESSION
Speak in a lively, animated voice and use lots of gestures and facial expressions to back up your words – you’ll give clues about what your words mean
USE SIMPLE, REPETITIVE LANGUAGE
Keep sentences short – as you talk about what is happening (“We’re driving in the car” or “Wow, you’re building a tower”)
MAKE IT EASY FOR YOUR CHILD TO LISTEN AND TALK
It is easier for your child to know what to listen to if your voice is not being masked by the television or music. Give your child quiet times to help them focus on your words. If your child uses a dummy, make sure that it is not in the way of their talking. Keep dummies to sleeptimes
BUILD ON WHAT CHILDREN SAY
Talk very clearly and add one or two words to your child’s sentence – if your child says ‘look car’, you could say ‘look, red car’
GIVE CHILDREN TIME TO RESPOND
Children often need time to put their thoughts together before answering, so give them longer to respond than you would with an adult
BE CAREFUL WITH QUESTIONS
Try not to ask too many questions, especially ones that sound like you’re constantly testing the child, or where you already know the answer
DEMONSTRATE THE RIGHT WAY
Praise your child’s efforts, even if the results aren’t perfect – if the child says “we goed to the shops” the adult might say “Yes we went to the shops” of if child says “look tar” the adult could say “yes, car!”
I thought these were pretty good tips but I’d add avoid baby talk. I honestly have never understood the thinking behind teaching two versions of words when you can teach the correct one from the start! Why say ‘Choo-Choo’ when you can say ‘train’? Why teach ‘Ta’ when you can teach ‘thank you’. Some baby talk words are more difficult to say than the real ones i.e. ‘Bow wow’ V ‘dog’!!!! My son’s speech has always been fairly advanced (a real chatterbox) and although he loves using funny voices, making up words and silly rhymes (which I encourage) he has a great vocabulary and loves learning new words and their meanings. I’m sure this has been largely down to us taking advantage of his inquisitive nature and explaining things properly when he asks about them rather than palming him off with kiddy answers – that are often not true. Sometimes adults can assume a child will not understand and therefore over simplify an answer which can actually end up confusing a child – especially if they’re on to the fact that you’ve made it up! I also found responding to a question with a little bit of additional information but not too much helps to add interest and fun into learning. I also have talked a lot to my son from him being a tiny baby and I believe this helps them with their speech and understanding.
What tips would you add to encourage development in your child’s communication?
There is still time to register for a free Chatterbox Challenge pack, just go to www.chatterboxchallenge.co.uk