A recent study has shown that too many children in England are starting school unable to speak in simple sentences or control their behaviour.
The Early Intervention Foundation's (EIF) analysis found a quarter of children were unable to communicate at the level expected for their age. It added that one in four children – particularly those from poor backgrounds and deprived communities – start primary school in England without the necessary language and communication skills.
Expectations on communication and language include being able to listen attentively, express themselves effectively and follow instructions.
The analysis uncovers a postcode lottery for school readiness across the country. Children in the North-East, North-West and west Midlands rank bottom for attainment in language and communication. The North-East ranks bottom for personal, social and emotional development.
The EIF said awareness must be raised about the importance of strong parent-child attachments and interactions in improving these skills for 0 to 5-year-olds before they reach school.
A fifth of mothers polled for the EIF found it difficult to access advice on social, emotional, communication or language skills for their children.
EIF Chief Executive Carey Oppenheim said: “Too many children arrive for their first day at primary school lacking the broad range of skills they need to reach their full potential. This can have damaging consequences which can last a lifetime. Especially as children with strong social, emotional and communication skills developed in childhood have a better chance of getting a good job and being healthy, than those who are just bright or clever. The gap in the development of social and emotional skills between children growing up in poor and rich families begins at the age of three.”
He adds: "Seeking help as a parent must not be seen as a sign of failure." Yet only half of mums have sought guidance/advice on social, emotional, communication or language skills. Health visitors are the most common person to seek guidance from, closely followed by friends and family. Only a third sought help from a children’s centre. The government said it recognised the importance of early years investment and has raised spending by £1bn a year.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: "We are committed to making sure every single child starts school ready to learn - that is why we have increased spending on childcare and the early years by around £1 billion per year.”
Talking Tots provides flexible, fun and affordable sessions for nurseries, pre-schools, Children's Centres and other childcare settings. The class activities also support schools in meeting many aspects of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework and Curriculum for Excellence. Communication is one of the most important skills that children ever learn, helping them with everything from making new friends to reading and writing.
At Talking Tots, we know that children learn best through play, so our early years programme focuses on providing activities and experiences that engage children’s senses. We use exclusive Talking Tots learning activities, individual props and group games to ensure children are fully absorbed in the activities.