Helen Driver, our Senior Speech and Language therapist shares that the first six years of life are extremely important for speech and language development. The critical period for the development of phonology, (the recognition and production of speech sounds) is from 24 weeks to 1 year of age.

Play with words

A child with typically developing phonological awareness will start to play with words and rhyme by 2 1⁄2 years of age. Phonological awareness and articulation continues to develop so that by 6 years of age a child should typically have clear speech.

Key to link sound with letters

Phonological awareness is one key aspect of development because if a child can associate the speech sound (phoneme) with the written letter (grapheme) they have the early foundation skills for reading and spelling. 

Where a child has a good understanding of language and is acquiring a wide range of vocabulary this can enhance their understanding of the written word. 

Therefore, if children have difficulties with speech and language development there may be associated difficulties in acquiring literacy skills.

walkinggarden

Early intervention is vital

Developmental speech and language impairment and associated under development of literacy can put children at risk of having poor outcomes in their social development and school learning. It is therefore vital that any signs of delay are detected early and intervention is delivered quickly.

At DAS our specialist psychologists are increasing their number of pre-school screens and full assessments to identify those children who may be at risk of dyslexia.

At K1 and the beginning of K2 we do not need to make a conclusive diagnosis. What is crucial is that we provide the correct input where links between communication and literacy are made. Our preschool classes provide such intervention as Salbiah Bahri, Head of DAS Preschool explains in “Walking through the Garden”.

The DAS Preschool Program aims to empower children struggling with language-based learning difficulties with the necessary strategies to bridge the gap between their potential and current abilities in meeting the expectations of formal education.

The program framework includes two key components of lesson delivery through implicit phonemic and explicit phonics activities. This supports children with their phonological awareness, allows children to understand the relationship between letters and their individual sounds and most importantly, to use these relationships in their writing and spelling.

walkinggarden2

In addition, embedded into the framework is the focus towards encouraging children to encounter, communicate and build relationships not only with themselves but also with their environment.

One such example is a lesson which I have conducted with my preschoolers through a walk in the garden at the new Tampines centre. The centre is blessed with a well maintained garden by their residents.

The different variety of plants and flowers were an excellent source of sensory experiences for the children and their completed artwork communicates the wonderful expression of their knowledge from this experience.

Reflecting their observations and their thoughts through artwork

walkinggarden3

“Some flowers smell nice but the ones made of paper have no smell” notes Chloe Chew as she observed that the garden has a mix of fresh flowers and artificial ones.

walkinggarden4

“I like the yellow flowers best” proclaimed Isaac Chan

walkinggarden5

Melissa Koh observed “A strong wind blows the cloud” during our walk through the garden.

walkinggarden6

Ashley Tham observed a “Butterfly looking for food”.

Learn more about the DAS Preschool Programme here.

The Preschool Seminar 2018 is opening registration soon, with practical workshops for parents and preschool educators to pick up early literacy intervention and school readiness tips. Learn more about the Preschool Seminar here!


About the Author:
Helen Driver, Senior Speech-Language Therapist, Director of Specialist Services
Salbiah Bahri, Head of DAS Preschool, Educational Therapist


This article was first published in FACETS