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Childrens communication skills

(85 Posts)
Jane10 Tue 31-Jul-18 12:13:02

Just read that a lot of children arrive at school with poor communication skills. Somehow it's to be a government responsibility to address this issue. Really? Is it? Do parents and families not talk to their children any more? What's changed?
Parents on social media ignoring wee ones clamouring to chat? That's certainly my experience from watching parents these days. Humph. Grumpy old woman alert!
PS I used to be a speech therapist.

GrannyGravy13 Tue 31-Jul-18 12:36:35

Jane10 I think it is lazy parenting. A parents role is to prepare and teach their children to go out into the world and discover new things. Even a car journey can become a fun learning experience, counting different colour cars, looking for fire engines etc.

Every day chores can be made fun, counting goods in and out of trolleys, letter magnets on fridges. Screen time can be used as a learning tool.

I think some parents use tv and screens as babysitters, and to keep them out of the way. We do monitor screen time with our GC on 'our watch' and adhere to the guidelines set by their parents. I also limit my time on iPad and iPhone whilst around GC.

rubytut Tue 31-Jul-18 12:37:17

I think this is going to become a real problem in the future.Partly because of adults on phones ignoring the children and children on electronic devices from such a young age. I appreciate that a lot of children have to attend nursery but I think that adds to the lack of communication in that there is very little one to one time due to staff child ratio.

Fennel Tue 31-Jul-18 12:41:27

Jane10 I agree with you up to a point, but as far as I remember this problem always existed, but for different reasons.
We had a Speech and Language Unit at our clinic in the '80s to '90s and they were kept very busy. Children with delayed language development.
Perhaps there are more now.

Brunette10 Tue 31-Jul-18 12:51:03

When our DD was young I was a full-time mummy. Being at home all the time with DD gave me the opportunity to communicate all the time with her. I remember teaching her all the normal things (to me anyway) about language skills. She grew up can handle herself very well, in a top professional career which involves speaking in public. Her own DS is now in the same position. Being spoken to all the time by not only DD and DSIL but by all of us and he such a wonderful speaker even at the young age of 2. Young mums and anyone else in charge of young children must communicate with their children. It's not up the the government to teach communication skills. It's the family.

Jane10 Tue 31-Jul-18 13:50:32

There have always been children with developmentally delayed language but the percentage affected by this appears to have increased a lot.

M0nica Tue 31-Jul-18 13:55:45

All this assumes that the parents have the communication skills themselves to pass on. If the parents themselves grew up in an equally language deprived environment how can they help their children?

I think much of the anger and violence among young men, especially arises from their poor communication skills that mean they cannot verbalise their every day needs and emotions and fear those who can.

Lack of verbal skills, like unemployment cascades down generations and all children in deprived areas should automatically be able to get into Sure Start schemes that concentrate on developing communication skills and also draw the parents into parent and toddler groups within Sure Start that can help parents improve their communication skills as well so that they can help their children.

Baggs Tue 31-Jul-18 14:00:05

What does "a lot" mean as a proportion of the whole school intake for a reception year?

I'm asking if it's really "a lot" or an understandable proportion given average parental language skills (or lack of them).

Baggs Tue 31-Jul-18 14:02:14

Whoops! Just read another jane10 post claiming the proportion has increased.

Baggs Tue 31-Jul-18 14:03:15

Studies on the problem?

SpanielNanny Tue 31-Jul-18 14:13:57

As M0nica says, I think a large part of the problem stems from the parents lack of language skills.

I worked in a young offenders institution many moons ago, and was stunned by the complete lack of even the most simple language skills I witnessed (possibly a large part of how they ended up there, but that’s another topic!) I would estimate that around three quarters of those I had dealings with struggled with basic literacy and numeracy. Those men will now be in their mid to late 40s, many raising children of their own. How are they ever going to be able to teach their children, when they lack the basic education themselves?

Assuming those children go on to have children of their own, the problem will just repeat itself. Intervention is needed for deprived areas, as has already been mentioned. I personally feel that it is previous generations of children who have been let down, not just the current one.

M0nica Tue 31-Jul-18 14:24:14

Baggs it will vary from school to school. My DGC attend a primary school that draws children from a deprived council estate as well as an area of comfortable professional homes and I understand from DS & DDil and a significant proportion of children there lack all kinds of skills when they start school.

My MiL was a reception year teacher in a small town in North Bucks and in the 1970s, many of the 19th century terrace houses around the school she taught in were being bought up cheaply by the council and being used for problem families. She used to say that in that period the children starting school with poor communication skills went from 2 or 3 a year group to nearly half the intake. In her words they had been talked over, talked at and talked through, but never talked to. They had never been read to, seen a book, held a pen, could not identify shapes and lacked basic vocabulary. It frequently took her 2 terms to get them reading ready. Leaving her only a term to get them up and reading. Teachers in the year above just assumed all the children had the basics, despite her warning them of those that were already falling behind and in need of extra help, which they rarely got. They probably never caught up.

Those children are the parents of today's children with communication problems.

Jane10 Tue 31-Jul-18 14:34:40

Various research studies have found very poor communication skills among prisoners in both young offender and adult prisons. Speech and language therapists are employed in the prison service.

Cherrytree59 Tue 31-Jul-18 14:43:31

Well I think the Beach thread the other day would go some way to explaining it.
However it is not always the case.
Two of my three grandsons had speech delay.
Both talked to non-stop by parents and grandparents.
My DD started talking and singing to her babies whilst still in the womb.
My second grandson - brother to one, spoke non stop from very early age.

Thankfully my eldest grandson started talking in time for school
(He started school at 4 yrs old)

My youngest grandson at 3yrs has only just started talking but is building up vocabulary quite quickly.

All Children now get free 15 hours a week nursery and this should be helping with children communication skills.
And also picking up on any speech problems.
We were very lucky the lady that ran my DGS's nursery was also trained in speech therapy.
A good nursery will communicate any concerns with parents and health visitors.
Speech and communication problems should also show when the child has their age 2 and 3 year check ups by the community heath visitor.

TerriBull Tue 31-Jul-18 14:44:17

It's quite evident when out and about, that some parents are more engaged with their phone than their children. I suppose each generation eventually adapts to the prevailing circumstances that surround them on a day to day basis. Although I perceive there are frustrations for young children when responses aren't forthcoming because the parents although with them physically aren't with them in spirit. That's where grandparents come into their own I guess we remember life without the mobile phone when conversation with whoever you were with took priority.

SpanielNanny Tue 31-Jul-18 14:44:38

Absolutely there are speech therapists available, however in my personal experience, they have very limited success. As with mental health care and life skills coaching etc, there just isn’t enough funding for the courses to be properly effective, they also have to often deal with those who just don’t help. The inmates still (often) leave prison with very limited skills, which they will unfortunaty, probably pass on to their children.

SpanielNanny Tue 31-Jul-18 14:48:24

I do agree that mobile phone use must also play a part in the problem, but fear that we’re in danger of solely blaming that, and missing larger more difficult problems.

eazybee Tue 31-Jul-18 15:07:57

Most children attend nursery now, where their speech problems are identified and addressed far sooner than in previous years, but when parents are advised on how to improve their communication skills, many don't bother.
I remember being very shocked by a mother whose two sons had language and communication problems due to deafness; she told me blithely that pre-school had told her that the infant school would sort out their speech problems. Untrue; they had given her all sorts of help and advice, and exercises to be practised at home, all recorded, which she and her husband had completely ignored. They did exactly the same with the advice from the speech therapist working with the children in school.
She was a nurse.
Apparently this is quite common; there is this expectation that someone else will sort out the child's problems, without input from the parents. Not all parents, obviously, but far too many.

Greta Tue 31-Jul-18 15:31:45

It would be useful to know who is included in ”a lot of children”. Are children from immigrants taken into account? I think we have always had children with poor communication skills. Perhaps their numbers have increased. The fact that many women no longer stay at home with their children must also have an impact on a child's language development. Children are very time consuming and time is a commodity we seem to have less and less of.

yggdrasil Tue 31-Jul-18 15:37:45

I thought the Surestart programmes had been stopped by this government, as part of 'austerity'

mcem Tue 31-Jul-18 15:37:50

The government is not responsible for teaching basic communication skills. Agree.
The government is responsible for the closure of many SureStart centres in England I believe.
I'm with monica that there are parents who are simply unable to teach these skills and that it's not all down to the obsession with phones - irritating though that is, but too simplistic.

M0nica Tue 31-Jul-18 16:12:19

Cherrytree speech delay is very different from poor communication skills. As you point out many children with speech delay come from families that are communication rich, so that even if speech is delayed they have grown up surrounded by language, conversation, books, pens and writing and once speech starts, make rapid progress. Again, as you say, these children benefit from speech therapy

The children being discussed are not speech delayed but live in homes where their parents have poor communication skills, books, reading and even pens and paper are missing. They are communication impoverished. What they need is not speech therapy but to move into an environment where they (and their parents) can be helped to develop communication skills.

Fennel Tue 31-Jul-18 16:32:38

Some of the parents of the children I wrote about @12.41 often couldn't read or write. They probably missed a lot of school time in their childhood. And came from families where literacy and verbal fluency wasn't valued very highly.

Baggs Tue 31-Jul-18 17:10:32

Interesting post, monica (1424 replying to mine). I tend to think that every generation has a proportion, not changing much along the normal curve of distribution, of children who are not reading/listening/talking-ready when they start school. Human intelligence and parenting skills are not increasing/improving so why should what I'm going to call 'infant academic achievement' change?

Also, perhaps it is schools that need to change rather than parents. I have an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach whenever things are made out to be parents' fault.

In general terms, is literacy increasing? I know is has done and still is doing in developing countries. Do we expect too much in developed countries? Have we decided that the educated middle-class way is the best and that that way must be imposed on everyone else whether suitable or not?

Just pondering. I think there is too much oversimplification in reports on stuff like this.

PamelaJ1 Tue 31-Jul-18 20:33:50

I took my DGS to a sure start toddler group. All the mums there were similar to my DD. They were trying to do their best for their children and helping them to learn to communicate and socialise.
There were no mums there with low literacy skills and if Sure Start hadn’t been available the attending mums would have found somewhere else to take them.
The SS system was set up to help those who are less capable of helping their children to develop, however it seems it hasn’t quite convinced them to join in.