Children don't learn communication skills all by themselves!
This story has hit the news again this week, with the BBC reporting that almost a third of children are starting school without the expected level of development in communication and literacy. Specifically, they don't know as many words as expected or recognise the basics of reading. This problem is at its worst in the North West of England. As rightly cited in this article, the sad thing is that children who start their school journey behind their peers struggle to ever fully catch up. Research from UNICEF a few years ago found that the quality of a child's preschool education has a direct impact on their exam results at age 16. Stats from the Guardian state that "children with a poor vocabulary aged five are more than twice as likely to be unemployed at age 34 as children with good vocabulary".
These findings were borne out anecdotally this week when I happened to have a chat with one of my fellow school governors who works at a local playgroup. She told me that she has seen the children's communication skills decline over the decade she has worked there, with more and more little ones struggling with basic speech. Happily, there are things we as parents/grandparents/carers can do! Simple things like talking to our children during meal times rather than looking at our phones, pointing out objects around us while pushing them in their buggy rather than giving them an iPad, and of course reading and repeating lovely stories and nursery rhymes.
It's a genuine source of delight to me when parents who've brought their little ones to Alphatots tell me how they've improved as a result. I've been lucky enough to get quite a few thank you cards this week as we ended the term, and it's so lovely to hear what a difference the classes have made. One little one-year old boy at one of our Alphatots Sounds and Signs sessions has improved his speech, listening, and sign language within just a few weeks of attending!
For more ideas of how you can help your little one gain vital skills in speech and communication, come along to Alphatots Sounds and Signs - I'd love to have you along! Sessions are running on Tuesdays throughout summer in Altrincham, then from September they'll be in Wilmslow, Altrincham, Sale, and Urmston.
More info of what's involved is at Www.alphatots.co.uk/for-babies