Looking to develop your child’s language skills? Rachel Lim and Michelle Ang speak to experts for tips and advice.
How To Develop Language Skills In Children
Be a reading parent
Esther Lim, Founder of LEAP SchoolHouse and Curriculum Director, Leap Education Group emphasise the importance for parents to be readers and role models for their children. “Rekindle the love for reading yourself. If you love to read then you are on your way to producing children who will love reading too. Read in front of your children and set the example for your children to start appreciating the value of reading.”
Create a print-rich home
Fill your home with books and reading material, adds Esther, who has 23 years experiencing the education industry. This can include books, newspapers, magazines, brochures. Make the reading process something that is part of recreation and day-to-day activities.
Read to your kids
Instead of starting off with elements like the letters and the sounds, talk about what the story and book is about, says Brian Caswell, Dean of Research and Program Development at MindChamps. “Sit down with your child, make them comfortable and happy. Read to them, put on voices, get them to predict what’s going to happen next. Do this before they can even decipher the text. It doesn’t matter if he is reciting something, or that he is not decoding it, because that book is alive for him. And the phonics will come to him almost instantaneously because he is already making the connections; he is learning it through experience.”
Mr Cameron Mitchell, Academic Director of I Can Read adds, “Reading to your child exposes them to a whole range of language and activates their imagination and literacy thought processes. Reading at home with your children also sets a very good example and develops a love of reading as a family.”
Use it at home
Language acquisition is most effective when parents help children use the language in their daily lives at home, says Joanne Zhao, Head Teacher of YouLe Mandarin Centre. In order for a child to pick up a language, they first have to listen to the language. After listening, children will learn to speak the language, followed by reading and writing. “Give them new things to explore and try, to grab their attention. Listen and speak to them and never force them to speak the language.”
Use picture books
Reading picture books to children provides them with great opportunities for having both the volume and richness of words, Joanne adds, who has six years of experience in teaching children.
“It’s difficult to consistently engage in meaningful conversations on a daily basis. But picture books are a platform which allows us to do so. There is a storyline and a specific theme to talk about at the end of the story. This is how we can spark off meaningful conversations with our children.” Joanne advises parents to choose books they enjoy reading on their own, because eventually they will be reading it to their child.
Where to go: English – MindChamps Reading and Writing Centre, Julia Gabriel Centre, LEAP SchoolHouse, I Can Read
Chinese – Chengzhu Language Centre, YouLe Mandarin Centre, LEAP SchoolHouse
For more tips from the experts, read our Enrichment and Preschool Resource Guide
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