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Everyday Learners: Reducing the COVID education lag

By Allena White - Special to the Daily Herald | Oct 1, 2022

Courtesy photo

A Ready to Learn class is shown in this undated photo.

A recent article by Abigail A. Allen from Clemson University discussed developmental delays due to isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. She is a researcher who specializes in learning disabilities in young children — specifically literacy and language skills. She shared five tips for how parents can help reduce this risk.

First, it is important to communicate with your child’s pediatrician to determine whether there are serious developmental delays. If you are concerned, or would simply like to know where your child is at in their development, please reach out to Help Me Grow by calling 211 and asking for a parent support specialist. They can help you fill out an Ages and Stages Questionnaire and determine whether your child needs further help.

The first tip that Abigail shared is to get your child talking. Children sometimes find other ways to communicate, like pointing or gesturing. You may even notice that your older children tend to communicate for their younger sibling. It is important to encourage your child to speak for themselves. If your child wants something, make sure to have them try using their words to communicate that desire before giving them the object.

The second tip she shared is to expand on your child’s speech. When you respond to your child, provide them with more details. For example, if your child points to a toy and says “toy!” respond by describing the toy. “Yes, that is a blue toy!”

Third is to provide warm, attentive interactions. You are your child’s conversation partner. Be present and provide your child with opportunities to talk to you. Get down on the floor and play with them. Ask what they are doing. Most importantly, follow their lead. Talk about what is interesting to them.

The fourth tip that Abigail gave is to share a book. This will provide them with a greater variety of vocabulary, general knowledge, and positive experiences with reading/communicating. She further suggests that you ask open ended questions and connect the story to real life experiences. For example, if you are reading a book about going to a pumpkin patch, remind them of a time when they went to a pumpkin patch or had an experience with a pumpkin.

The last tip that was shared is to talk about words. Children are constantly learning about written and spoken language. It helps them when you point out different qualities of words. For example, you can clap out the syllables of words, talk about how certain words rhyme, or compare how the same letter sounds different in certain words.

If you would like more ideas on how to help your child in their developmental journey, join us for our monthly Ready To Learn classes by going to our website and signing up. We will discuss a developmental topic and how you can encourage your child to learn and grow through reading, activities and media during the session. You will also receive free children’s books and pizza if you attend in person!

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