The highly respected international journal Science devoted the August 19, 2011 issue to the importance of early education in ultimate success in high school, college and beyond. One area emphasized in this special issue is the importance of building language skills, starting in preschool. This Parent Smart Blog has been devoted to helping you as parents apply the most current brain research to play games with your children that build language and other cognitive skills shown to enhance school success. Below are some of the highlights from an artilce by David Dikenson of Vanderbilt University in this August 19, special issue of Science.
We know from research conducted by Early Child Care Research Network of the National Institute of Health that the language ability we see in children three and four years of age predicts later reading skills all the way through high school. We also know that ability with language later in life builds directly on earlier competencies. Below are specific competencies parents can foster at home and through pre-school and elementary school experiences to assure language good language skills.
· Birth to age three
Milestones you should expect for basic vocabulary and syntax –
§ 30 months - 300 words (38.6% nouns, 21% verbs, 7.1% adverbs; 14.6% pronouns)
§ 3 years - 900 words; MLU = 3.1
Your child should enjoy books and word play like nursery rhymes and funny words
Your child should begin using language used to form relationships.
· Three to Kindergarten
Milestones you should expect vocabulary and syntax –
· Your child should have school based vocabulary like that needed for following directions, knowing alphabet letters, understanding school rules, etc.
· Advanced syntax should be developing for use and understanding of compound and complex sentences, like “The boy who likes ice cream is my friend”
Your child should understand stories read aloud.
Your child should know if words rhyme and identify words that start with the same sounds
Your child should be able to read a few commonly occurring words like his name, the word STOP on road signs, words repeated often in favorite books, and be able to write his name
Preschools that stress language skills can be very helpful in assuring your child builds these prerequisite language skills. Parents need not seek out preschools that teach reading or mathematics per se, rather those that stress language enrichment through opportunities to listen to stories being read and to talk about stories that are read aloud.
Tip 40 - Research is building that the stronger your child's language skills during preschool years the better your child will do in school. Provide as many language rich experiences as you can when your child is young and seek out preschool environments where language skills are emphasized.