Language and starting school

Here comes the time to take your little one by the hand and to walk to your neighbourhood school to register. Do you think his language is developing well enough?

Should we mention language disorders or not?

In addition to information about the address, the name of the parents and the number to reach you in case of emergency, the school will want to know his medical history and the details of his development, including that of his language. Recently, a parent asked me if he should mention his child’s disorder during registration. He is not the first to ask and every time, I try to understand the reasons that make them reluctant.

Reasons to avoid talking about it

Some fear that the school will judge them or their child. The idea that a child developed a language disorder because of a lack of stimulation from his parents is still very common and it is not rare to hear parents confessing that they acted the wrong way or have been absent. Others mention that people around them say or imply that a language disorder is related to a lack of intelligence and don’t want anyone to question their child’s intellectual potential. One way or another, the fear of being judged by the school staff and of being labeled still exists. In other cases, I heard parents mention that their school wasn’t offering any services so they did not see any point in telling them about an eventual disorder. It would only result in labelling their child. And also, in some cases, it seems that some schools refused to offer speech therapy services in school, claiming that the child already had access to those at home.

Reasons to talk about it

No taboos
We cannot deny that some taboos still exist concerning speech disorders but I noticed a positive evolution over the years. It is increasingly admitted that not only parents but also children have a share of responsibility, through their potential and openness. Talking is a two players game and in that game, every player must cooperate. As parents, our role is to teach and the child’s role is to be able and to want to learn.

Thus, when noticing a delay or a language disorder, it is important to identify its cause, not to judge the child but to help him make progress. It is true that some attitudes of the parents may be better than others to help a child evolve. If such is the case, the school administration, that is not there to judge, should find a resource that could help the parents. If, for a reason or another, it is the child who is less skilled or receptive to learning, it is important to know it and react as soon as possible. All children should receive proper and good services to which they are entitled.

Early intervention
We cannot stress enough the importance of early detection to promote social integration and learning in young children. Young, the child learns the language and later, that language allows him to learn. In class, the information and instructions are given in sentences of varying length and sometimes include new words. The teacher may read stories that he must listen to and that require good listening and good understanding.

Even if it is still early in the school life of your child and without making it sound alarmist, it is important to know that a relation was established between school results and potential dropouts. Though early detection, it is possible to avoid the accumulation of delays that can result in a lack of interest in school and discouragement. In return, the child must express himself in various situations. He must say, explain, tell and he must master his language enough to do so in a way that will be easily understood by others.

Language development must meet the requirements of the curriculum. During registration, it is important to mention any known issue. However, if you wonder if his language is adequate and sufficient to start school in September, I suggest consulting the Appendix table found in my “Guide du langage de l’enfant de 0 à 6 ans”. You can also ask questions to the school staff: in some cases, the school may have the necessary resources or refer you to public or private services.

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