Language skills may have the greatest impact

Preparing young children for school is the goal for many parents and preschool programs. Research has told us that the more skills children bring into their schooling – in basic maths, reading and social skills – the more likely they will succeed in those same areas in school.

Superskill for school success

But is there a superskill to school readiness? We sure think so – LANGUAGE. A study published in the journal Early Childhood Research Quarterly say that a child’s vocabulary and grammar not only predict future success with written and spoken language, but it also impacts performance in other subject areas.

Dr Amy Pace and her colleagues looked at data for more than 1200 children in the US and looked at several measures of academic and social skills at specific ages and grade levels, including upon school entry and in grades 1, 3 and 5.

The findings reveal that of the skills and milestones evaluated — social/emotional, attention, health, reading, maths and language — only language skills, when a child entered school, predicted his or her performance both within that subject area and most others (maths, reading and social skills) from first through fifth grade.

Why does language affect so many areas?

Language is a foundational skill in social interaction. If you have strong language skills, you will be able to communicate with peers and teachers.

Language skills help with executive functioning – the ability to understand follow instructions from the teacher.

Language skills help with maths and science – terminologyand abstract concepts rely on the knowledge of language.

When kids learn to read at school, strong language skills means they can understand WHAT they read.

How can I support my child’s language skills?

Talk, read and play! Ongoing interactions and conversations with your child about things that interest them will encourage them to explore, ask questions, make comments and retell stories.

Our NEW 6 month membership has just launched – the perfect addition to your home with a high quality picture book, reading guide and play activity arriving to your door each month. Designed by speech pathologists and tested by mums, this will get your kids talking, reading, playing and succeeding!

Thanks for hearing our call,
Your Little Birdies

Pace, et al. (2018). Measuring success: Within and cross-domain predictors of academic and social trajectories in elementary school, Early Childhood Research Quarterly; Volume 46, 1st Quarter 2019, Pages 112-125.

Book Week 2019 across the ages

We are halfway into our Book Week 2019 celebrations and today’s feature is BIG – featuring 3 books across 3 age groups: 0-3 years, 3-5 years and 5-8 years. Keep reading to see what we like about these books through our speech pathology lens and our top reading tip for each book! Let’s do this!

1. It’s not scribble to me by Kate Ritchie (0-3 years)

CBCA Book of the Year: Early Childhood Notable, Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year: 0-3 years Shortlisted

Cover of “It’s not scribble to me” (Kate Ritchie)

This book will engage little ones, whether they are artistic or not! Many parents and children alike will recognise aspects of this book in their own lives – from the parent who is frustrated at their child for drawing on the wall, to the child who is excited to draw, paint, colour all over the walls! The rhyme and rhythem of the language is highly appropriate for this age group while the pictures and words togeher allow opportunities for predictions and inferences. Each page is features a ‘child-drawn’ picture – sure to spark conversations during and long after reading and even inspire your child to draw their own unicorn or frog. You could easily share this book with older children and use language to compare and contrast how their drawing is same and/or different to the one in the book.

“It’s not scribble to me” (Kate Ritchie)

READING TIPS:
Pause to give your child a chance to ‘predict’ what the bear has drawn e.g. “It’s only a _____” (point as you pause), or “The black is a ____”.

2. Duck! by Meg McKinlay (3-5 years)

CBCA Book of the Year: Early Childhood Notable, Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year: 3-5 years Shortlisted

Cover of “Duck!” (Meg McKinlay)

Duck runs around the farm shouting “DUCK!”, trying to warn them of something falling out of the sky, only to have the other animals exasperately explain why they are nothing like a duck. As speech pathologists, we love the descriptive language (“you have funny webbed feet and I have these fine cloven hooves”) and the moral of the story – to be a good communicator, you have use specific language! Nathaniel Eckstrom’s illustrations are captivating and changes in text type (bold, size, italics, font) encourage 3-5 year olds to explore print and understand how it affects how the story is read.

READING TIP: Make comments about how different character’s perspectives about the events, helping your child’s theory of mind to develop. For example, “Duck is beginning to feel frustrated because he feels the other animals are not listening to him but Sheep can’t understand why Duck would think to call him a ‘duck’.”

“Duck!” (Meg McKinlay)

3. Under the Southern Cross by Frané Lessac (5-8 years)

CBCA Eve Pownall Award: Notable, Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year: 5-8 years Shortlisted

The older sister to Frané Lessac’s “A is for Australia”, this stunningly illustrated book represents all the beautiful elements of our diverse Australian cultural, geographical and social contexts. Educating this age group of readers through a larger-font introductory sentence of the location (e.g. “In Brisbane, the Ferris wheel spins up to the stars, for a sweeping view of the city – under the Southern Cross.”) and then drawing readers in deeper with facts that are embedded into the illustrations. The descriptive language creates a sense of wonder and excitement, sure to prompt many young ones to ask further questions, express that they have seen it before or make comparisons to where they live.

Cover of “Under the Southern Cross” (Frané Lessac)

READING TIP: Encourage your child to compare and contrast their own town/city to the ones described in the book. For example, “In Brisbane, we have a bridge too, called the Queen Victoria Bridge, just like how Sydney has the Sydney Harbour Bridge however, we do not have the Sydney Opera House.”

“Under the Southern Cross” (Frané Lessac)

We hope you enjoyed reading about these three celebrated books and taking on a new reading tip!

Our very own book boxes provide speech pathologist-approved books and play activities designed by us to encourage strong communication skills in your child.

Our Book Week 2019 special is running now – check out the SHOP page!

Be Magical Unboxing

“You can find magic wherever you look.  Sit back and relax.  All you need is a book.” 

Dr Suess

Be Magical is one of three themes in the Prep4Prep package and the importance of this theme really cannot be overstated. Continue reading “Be Magical Unboxing”

Be the odd one out!

Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.

– Oscar Wilde

Having strong oral language skills prepares our children to socially navigate their world by requesting, commenting, asking questions, joining in, negotiating with and complimenting others. Every book box provides ample opportunities for these language skills to be practised. Let us talk you through 3 highlights of our Be Yourself book box. Continue reading “Be the odd one out!”

3 things you didn’t know about our Be Brave box

If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.

Seth Godin

Kids try an exponential number of new things in the first few years of their lives, from when fear starts to appear, even as young as a few months through separation anxiety. But with our patience, consistent support and acceptance, young children learn to grapple with the many fearful feelings that are part of their development. Picture books provide the platform to build on your child’s courage and resilience while giving them a boost with their language and literacy skills. Let us talk you through 3 highlights of our Be Brave book box. Continue reading “3 things you didn’t know about our Be Brave box”

The nine parts of speech

To kick off the year, we’ve sharing a fun poem about parts of speech in language. As speech language pathologists, we find language fascinating and love continuing to understand how parts of speech develop in children. More on this later, but for now…ENJOY! Continue reading “The nine parts of speech”