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If your child is starting school next year, you’re probably excited and maybe a little nervous. Perhaps you’re worrying about how your child will go at orientation, how they’ll cope with the school work, and whether they’ll like the teacher and make new friends.
But have you thought about what you can do to make sure your child's communication skills are ‘school ready’? Strong speech and communication skills can help kids better cope with starting school – not only with reading and writing, but also with socialising, making new friends and building relationships with teachers.
Here are a few tips to help you and your child get prepped for prep.
1. Encourage storytelling.
Ask your child to make up a story, retell a book in their own words, or to talk to you about their favourite activity. This way, they’ll be prepared for school-related activities such as show-and-tell and talking to the class about what they did over the weekend.
2. Upgrade your reading list.
Choose longer, more detailed books that challenge your child’s vocabulary, as well as their experience of the world (stories that describe things they haven’t yet experienced).
3. Practice comprehension and instruction.
Give your child a series of tasks to do – such as put your shoes on, get your hat, and pack your water bottle. These multiple step instructions will be common in the school environment and your child’s ability to understand and carry them out can be the difference between them keeping up with the class, and feeling out of the loop.
4. Build your child’s confidence.
It can be tempting to correct your child when they get things wrong but try and focus on the positives, especially if they’re telling you a story or idea, or talking about their dreams or feelings. By constantly praising your child, you’ll help them feel confident about giving new words, phrases and ways of communicating a try in the future.
Whatever age and stage your child is at, if you’re concerned about their speech, understanding or socialising, it’s worth checking in with a qualified speech pathologist. Connect Health & Community’s speech pathology service, Happy Hippos, is run by highly experienced and qualified speech pathologists. Click here to learn more.
For more resources, including factsheets on communication milestones, visit Speech Pathology Australia.
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