Thursday, 3 April 2014

Communication will help our two year olds!

            With the latest idea on testing our two year olds, the help needs to start at home.

It is all over today's news that the government is considering testing children at the tender age of two. This is mostly because many children who go to school at primary level at the ages of 4-5 lack the communication skills they need in order to develop well in education. This is particularly in inner city areas.

Personally, I feel that two year old children should not be tested in Maths and Language at this age. Children in childcare at the age of two are often monitored by the staff with observations and all children currently are given a brief statement of progress at 2 years old anyway. I think what the government are not realising is that this is a bit of a "kick in the teeth" for childcare settings, as it means yet more pressure put upon the staff who work tirelessly to care for our children.

A big issue leading to the lack of communication skills with our two year olds is the lack of quality communication at home. Many new parents actually find it difficult to know how to communicate with their little ones, which can have a great impact on their child's development. This is where family support is vital, making Children's centres accessible for those who need them (rather than closing them!) and making sure that parents who need extra help can get it.

Some tips for communicating with your 0-3 year old are:

1. Respond to your baby when they give you eye contact, coo or gesture towards you. Speak to them simply and gently in response ie:"You like a hug?"

2. Talk to and listen to your child. Make every little thing an opportunity to talk. For example "Oh look, it is raining today" or "Shall we go downstairs to play?"

3. Give your child the opportunity to extend their language by asking them questions. Ask them to describe their favourite foods at dinner time or talk about the colours of the clothes they are wearing today.

4. Allow your child the chance to explore their feelings with words. If they are feeling cross, then help them to describe it "You are cross, aren't you? You feel cross because Daddy has gone to work and you wanted to play"

5. Read together. Read to your baby (ideally from in the womb!) every day and then as they get older, encourage them to read along with you. Discuss the story and what they can see in the pictures on the page. What could happen next? How are the characters feeling?

6. Encourage your child to engage in pretend play. Pretend along with them, being characters in their games. For example, the other day I had to be the Queen and my daughter was a princess all morning before going to Pre-school. I therefore spoke in a different voice and talked about things to do in the kingdom today! It helps your child to extend their vocabulary and learn how you can communicate in different situations.

These are just a few ideas to allow you to help your child to communicate effectively. These things are often carried out in childcare settings to encourage your child to learn, but doing them in the home too is also very beneficial.

What are your thoughts on the idea of 2 year old testing and how do you think things can be improved to support those children who are falling behind?

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