The School Bell Rings: My Baby Goes to School
By Maureen Penko
My morning walk these August days are in Vancouver and the path takes me past an elementary school where I am reminded that September and the first day of school will soon be here. At the moment, the grounds are enjoyed by walkers of all ages and children on the structure from toddlers to school aged children. The schoolwork crew is preparing for the start of the school year with adding on portables and building play areas. My conversation with a parent starts off with "I am not sure if my child will be able to go to school or if I want to send my child to school with the COVID 19 variant on the rise" This is certainly a worry and one that is on all parents and I am sure teachers minds. We share the importance of wearing masks and she expresses how hard she has worked on educating her children about wearing them. We soon go on to enjoy watching the children interact and the pleasure they are experiencing. So, I do want to focus on the positive aspects of getting ready for school whether in a formal building or if you are schooling at home.
Creating daily routines for children is important. Following a schedule through rehearsal and visual reference on a white board helps children learn what to expect and helps with sequencing. Routines allow for consistency, and a sense of comfort in knowing what's next. Terms such as first, next and last can be taught. You can also introduce change when you have routines, this will teach your child that sometimes there can be something new happen but somethings are the same. Words such as same and different can be used.
Checklists on what do we need when going back to school help the child prepare and organize The flyers that you receive on supplies can be the start of the vocabulary related to school. You can also introduce the rules in the classroom based on what the classroom teachers send you. This becomes very important for the child who is specific and does not understand change or tolerate it well. PBS.org has a really neat series of songs from "Daniel Tigers Neighbourhood." The songs address the various social skills that your children experience, need to learn about and it shows them what strategies they can use when interacting with others.
The idea of learning language through songs is an important language skill for children to learn Learning words, through music help with imitation skills, rhyme, sequencing words and developing memory skills. Songs are available on You Tube which you can watch and listen together as a virtual book experience. Here are some titles: The Pout- Pout Fish Goes to School, Be Kind and many more. Books are such a wonderful way to bond with your child, enjoy learning language, work on speech sounds and definitely build vocabulary comprehension. The humour expressed in "The Day the Crayons Quit" the lilt and repetition of "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" the outrageous and imaginative message in "Dragons love Tacos" and the sweetness of "Clifford Goes to Kindergarten"..... books offer so much.
If you are looking for milestones to guide you as to what your child should be able to understand and express, the following has been obtained from the American Speech -Language-Hearing Association and other sources:
What should my child be able to do?
Hearing and Understanding
- Understands words for order, like first, next, and last.
- Understands words for time, like yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
- Follows longer directions, like "Put your pajamas on, brush your teeth, and then pick out a book."
- Follows classroom directions, like "Draw a circle on your paper around something you eat."
- Hears and understands most of what is heard at home and in school.
- Says all speech sounds in words. They may occasional mistakes on sounds that are harder to say, like l, s, r, v, z, ch, sh, and th.
- Responds to "What did you say?"
- Talks without repeating sounds or words most of the time.
- Names letters and numbers.
- Uses sentences that have more than 1 action word, such as ,jump, play, and get. May make some grammar mistakes: "Zach gots 2 video games, but I got one."
- Tells a short story.
- Keeps a conversation going.
- Talks in different ways, depending on the listener and place
As I hold my first newborn grandbaby Wynona I look forward to all the stages she will go through. Each child is different and they all develop at different speeds. The most important thing to remember is to use language describing what they are doing daily. Exposure daily to indoor and outdoor experiences prepares your child every day for their future. Model social language exchanges and foster these experiences in your child. Creating friendships that may last through the grades will be a special gift and each child needs to use their communication skills when meeting their peers.
If you are concerned about the speech and language of your own child or a family member feel free to call and ask if you should be concerned. I wish you an exciting first day of school.
For further information, visit Maureen's web site or e-mail Maureen directly.
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