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More 4-year-olds starting school unable to speak properly

Tuesday 19th September 2017
More children are starting school unable to communicate properly, according to a new report. Image: djedzura via iStock
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A growing number of children are starting primary school unable to communicate properly with their teachers or peers, it has been revealed.

This is the finding of a new report from the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and the Family and Childcare Trust, which found that 83 per cent of teachers believe too few four-year-olds have been adequately prepared for starting school by their parents.

More than three-quarters of respondents to a poll also said they thought the number of young children with inadequate communication skills has increased over the last five years. This indicates that more may benefit from intervention from a speech and language therapist from a young age.

The report authors believe that increased reliance on technology has played a part in the growing numbers of children with poor verbal skills, as many are left to watch television or play on a tablet to entertain themselves rather than playing with more traditional toys.

As a result, their imagination as well as their creative and language skills are not necessarily being exercised as much as they could be, leaving them struggling to communicate once they start school. Therefore, unless they receive support from speech therapists, they could find themselves falling behind their classmates.

James Bowen, director of the NAHT, commented: "We would all say that life has become faster paced and [many are] struggling to have quality family time. The best way to help children is to engage with them, listen to them, talk with them - that is absolutely critical.

"The pressure of family life means you have less time to do that. Although some technology is great, it won't replace a conversation with a parent or sitting and reading a book together."

This is advice that speech and language therapists can pass on to the parents of their young patients. If it doesn't correct communication issues, further and more intensive speech therapy options can then be explored.

Written by Martin Lambert

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