Over recent weeks and months, Noisy Classroom has shared games, talking points and resources to help parents #KeepKidsTalking during lockdown and beyond. These activities are designed to encourage family conversation and discussion, as well as to inspire critical thinking and talking – these crucial skills can all too often be overlooked in favour of more academic subjects. While lockdown is now easing, the need for communication remains just as important as ever. So why is it so important to #KeepKidsTalking as lockdown eases?
2018 saw the publication of the ‘Bercow 10 Years On’ report which focused on children’s speech, language and communication needs, and the implications for our young people, and society as a whole, if our young people are unable to develop these skills. One way that children and young people develop their communication skills is through the schools system, where ‘Spoken English/Language’ is an integral part of the national curriculum. But what happens if these skills are not developed? What impact can this have on a person’s life?
Here are some key facts that came out of the research above:
- Language skills at age two can predict reading, maths and writing ability when children start school
- Vocabulary at age five is the most important factor affecting literacy at age 11
- Good language, particularly vocabulary at 13, is a strong predictor of better outcomes at GCSE
- Good communication skills are rated as the most important employability skills needed for young people entering their first job
- Many children and young people have difficulty communicating; they have speech, language and communication needs (SLCN)
- 10% of children and young people have long-term SLCN
- 7.6% have developmental language disorder, a condition where children have problems understanding and/or using spoken language. There is no obvious reason for these difficulties – no hearing problem or physical disability explains them
- In some areas of deprivation, at least 50% of children and young people have SLCN. Without support, children and young people with SLCN can struggle academically, socially and emotionally
- Children with poor early language at age five are four times more likely to struggle with reading at age 11
- Only 15% of children with language difficulties achieved expected levels in reading, writing and Maths at the end of primary school compared with 61% of their classmates
- 20.3% of pupils with SLCN gain 4/C grade or above in English and maths at GCSE. Nationally, 63.9% of all pupils achieve this level
- 81% of children with emotional and behavioural disorders have unidentified language difficulties
- Young people referred to mental health services are three times more likely to have SLCN than those who have not been referred
- Children with poor vocabulary skills are twice as likely to be unemployed when they reach adulthood
- 60% of young offenders have low language skills
With over three months out of school, and the long summer holidays stretching ahead of us, it is easy to see from the data above that a high proportion of our children will be disadvantaged, in terms of their developing communication skills, as a result of recent circumstances. Therefore it is critical that we, as parents, continue to support our children in developing these skills at every opportunity.