My child is not ready for school!

Upon his school entry, a child must have acquired at least some knowledge because the lessons of preschool are based on the understanding of:

  • Simple instructions (ex.: go grab your apron), double (ex.: go grab your apron and sit with a friend) or complex (ex.: go grab your apron and sit with a friend with whom you have never worked before).
  • Concepts of time (ex.: later, tomorrow), space (ex.: behind, inside, between...), quantity (ex.: two, many, a pair...), comparison (ex.: bigger than, less than, more than...)
  • Question words: who, where, when, how, why...
Reading and writing skills

Not only is our language necessary in our daily activities, it is also essential to learn writing and reading. Written symbols, like letters and words, can be compared to a new code for children, a new language. To learn it, he must already have a good knowledge of his spoken language:

  • Good pronunciation;
  • Appropriate vocabulary for his age;
  • Grammar words well differentiated. Here are a few examples: capable of using personal pronouns (I, you, he for a boy, she for a girl), possessive determiners (my, his, their), to use the appropriate verb tense (I have eaten, I will sleep well tonight), to name a few;
  • Capable of using complete sentences that contain at least 5 words and to connect them with words like “and”, “because”, “after”;
  • Capable of commenting on his language: reacting when a word is funny, when we misused a word, when a word comes from another language, when it rhymes, etc.
How can I tell if my child is ready?

As a parent, you surely have intuitions about this. It is important to listen to them and to question the adults that surround your child to confirm your impression. Anyone who is familiar with the education system can help you through this. When enrolling, you can ask the school’s director if there is a professional you could talk to. Also, you can ask your daycare educators to fill a grid of strengths and weaknesses that will help you work with your child before school begins. And if you prefer, you can ask for web references and assess the situation yourself.

How should I react to help my child?

It is always time to do something to help our child. The best is to identify the aspects of his language that could be improved before school and to start working on it immediately. It is important to assess the improvements that are necessary but also to understand the depth of the issue. It will help you decide what kind of help he will need: activity book, summer camp, and consultation with a speech therapist? Over the years, I have put together a simulation program that targets several prerequisites in terms of language (describe, tell, explain), word games, attention and memory and sound games related to the written language. It allows children to progress in various aspects of language and it gives parents a better idea of what will be happening in school.

Since it is not too late to help our child and summer is just around the corner, why don’t we try these activities at the park, in the pool or during field trips? After all, we can have a bit of fun and there are so many different activities that can stimulate your child’s language!

Sylvie Desmarais
Speech therapist

Sylvie Desmarais has been a speech therapist for thirty years and is the mother of two big boys. She always wanted to make her knowledge about language and communication understandable and accessible. Former Université de Montreal teacher, she has given many conferences to parents of young children and she spent much of her career training doctors and early childhood professionals. She strongly believes in the importance of early detection of language disorders, which is why she participated in many activities to raise awareness and stimulate the development of language. For her, it is essential that parents follow the evolution of their children and communicate with them. It is to give them the tools to do so that she wrote the "Language guide for 0-6 years old children" (Guide du langage de 0 à 6 ans) published in 2010 by Éditions Quebecor. 2144, montée Monette Laval, QC, H7M 4T6 514-924-6471

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