Episode 3: My Opinion on Whether You Should Enrol Your Child with Delayed Speech to School Early
So, should you or should you not consider early school enrolment for your 18 month old or 2 year old if they are displaying delayed speech?
I am asked this question so often by parents who feel perhaps their home environment may be impeding their child’s language development.
They perhaps don’t have age-matched children to interact with their child or their house help/nanny is not ideal.
These by the way, are valid reasons and this is what I say to parents…
- Know why it is you’re seeking a playgroup for your child.
- Is your child sociable, but has no one to engage him at home?
- Does your child seek out other children when he sees them, but appears starved for this company?
- Is your child difficult to engage and mostly prefers his own company and;
- Has restricted play ideas
A couple of things to consider…
Parents can choose to enrol their child to a play group, but caution should be exercised so that the playgroup actually advantages your child.
What do I mean?
Do your due diligence, i.e. make sure that your playgroup of choice has adequate access to a playing ground, play activities and is adequately staffed.
Be sure to discuss the goals you hope to achieve by enrolling your child at the playgroup- these could range from your child interacting more with other children, participating in group activities, following instructions, etc.
A failure to eliminate grey areas could lead to your child carrying on with how he or she was at home. You can read this blog post for tips on how to grow your child’s language.
It is not unheard of for children with limited social skills, whom their parents thought the act of enrolling them in a playgroup would have been beneficial, to end up less interactive as a result.
This is because if your child tends to have limited interests, they may identify a single toy at the day care, which can occupy them sufficiently and discourage interaction.
A occupied, unfussy child is usually a highly sought after child in a learning set up”
And when you come to pick your child up at the end of the morning/day, you’ll be told your child had a great day, but unbeknown to you, your child spent the entire day at the corner quite content with his red truck.
The danger of early school enrolment for children with delayed speech
In my experience, playgroups more readily advantage the children who are mostly lacking the social interaction more than those with limited or disordered social skills, which however is not to say they cannot be of benefit to the child presenting with specific social delays.
I’ve heard from a mother about a playgroup, which gave her daughter access to games on the computer as this was what calmed down the girl.
Now, if you think that the reason the mother chose to enrol her daughter was because at home, the nanny overexposed her to screens.
This then became a case of “from the frying pan and into the fire” for this parent.
“Early enrolment into school will not automatically fill existing gaps your child may have in their language or social development. Concerted effort at assisting your child make progress should be the focus.”
I know many children with specific delays, who have attended school for 5, 6, 7 years and still haven’t learnt to read or write.
Or, younger children presenting with delayed speech and language skills, who a year on after being enrolled into school are still as delayed as they were when they began school.
In conclusion, my opinion is, should you be faced with the decision to enrol your child to playgroup/daycare early, make sure:
- You discuss your goals with the playgroup staff
- Foster a relationship that gives you an opportunity to regularly discuss your child’s progress with the staff.
Schools, unfortunately, are becoming the go-to solutions to mitigating children’s delayed speech and language skills.
If your child is displaying delayed speech and language skills, it is easier to imagine the solution lies out there and by so doing, one inadvertently abdicates one’s role in finding solutions that resolve the underlying reasons that may have contributed to your child’s delayed speech and language skills.
Something else to remember is that there are other associated dangers to early school enrolment.
According to a study conducted by Harvard, enrolling your child to school early could lead to a greater likelihood of your child being diagnosed with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
“As schooling becomes more rigid and consumes more of childhood, it is causing increasing harm to children.