This includes the child's ability to listen, speak and understand vocabulary. There are 4 main areas necesssary for communication and which can affect school readiness;
- Speech - understanding how to pronounce clearly
- Language - understanding language and using language
- Fluency - communicating without stammering or repeating
- Voice - producing sounds
The optimum time to acquire language is when a child is 0-5 years old. After this age, the brain struggles to learn these skills. There are a few factors that cause language delays; learning disability, poor concentration and attention, family history of delayed language and immature development.
There are also environmental factors that can be improved by parents and educators such as;
- Lack of motivation - Are other children speaking for the child? Is the child being treated like a baby? Is your child allowed to make their own choices?
- Lack of desire - Is the child ignored or bullied? Is too much expected of the child and so they give up trying? Does the child experience rich language at home?
- Lack of stimulation - Is the child encouraged to talk about their ideas and thoughts? Is the child given enough positive attention and encourgagement?
- Lack of opportunity - Do parents and carers ask the child questions about their day and engage them in conversation?
In addition, emerging literacy skills such as print awareness, story sense and writing process can also affect school readiness. This emergent literacy includes such skills as vocabulary, rhyming ability and identification of letters.
A child's literacy level when they first enter school is a good predictor of reading ability during the course of the child's education.
Language in Early Childhood Care and Education
Literacy practices in preschool can affect a child's emergent literacy skills. The availability of books and of being read to one-to-one or in small groups can improve the reading ability of pre-schsoolers. More specifically, book reading, combined with phonological training, is highly effective in improving literacy skills. Literacy practices within the preschool are even more important for children whose families either aren't aware of, or don't value the importance of reading.
Language and Family Settings
Children who live in families where reading and writing are common practice and highly valued are more likely to enter school with greater reading levels.
In addition, it appears from research that it is quality rather than quantity that counts, with 'dialogic' reading is deemed more successful. Dialogic reading describes a method of reading where questions are used to make children active participants rather than passive listeners. This technique is easy to do and can be used by people who struggle with the written word. Adults can show children pictures and ask them what they think is happening. This allows children to use their language skillls and encourages thinking skills.