Personal Empowerment / 1523 Views

The pandemic means many children will have spent the best part of a year interacting much less than normal with teachers, friends and family. One of the big questions is how this will have changed the way they have learned to speak. Have lockdown and other COVID-19 measures affected how children acquire the speech and language skills so vital to their academic and social development? And if children’s speech has been held back, what can parents do about it?

A recent survey of schools and parents, conducted by the Education Endowment Foundation, has found that children who started school in autumn 2020 needed more support than in previous years.

The findings suggest that the greatest area of concern was communication and language development, in which 96% (55 out of 57) of schools said they were either “very concerned” or “quite concerned”. Close behind were personal, social and emotional development (91%) and literacy (89%), skills which are heavily reliant on the development of strong speech, language and communication abilities.

Impact of lockdowns

Parents have done an amazing job through the pandemic to keep their children safe and healthy. Having few activities available to them and restrictions on seeing extended family has been a challenge for many.

But this has reduced children’s exposure to new vocabulary – to words we might use when we visit the farm, say, or go to see grandma. This is important as we know that vocabulary levels at age two predict children’s performance at school entry, which itself is predictive of later outcomes.

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About The Author

Yvonne Wren, Senior research fellow and director, Bristol Speech and Language Therapy Research Unit, University of Bristol

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

Narrated by Billy Joey, AI

 

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