Children have to see, hear and write words in order to learn. Without language they lose the ability to learn and continue to learn. It’s sad to see children who are unable to answer questions because they don’t have the language to respond. “What is that?” we as teachers ask each other. The children simply don’t have the language to respond. Some children respond but they do so with limited words. What’s missing? How are we changing as a society and what should we do to help our children reach their potential?
Talking is the first way to help a child reach their potential. The more language a child hears the more they’ll eventually be able to read. Once a child has heard a word it’s far more likely they’ll be able to read it once they come upon it in writing. Read to children. Young children should be read to everyday. If books aren’t always available choose newspapers, websites, street signs, cereal boxes, anything. Language!
Have language readily available. Books, magazines, newspapers, paper, pencils, crayons, computers… Television isn’t bad. There, I said it. My own children, now very happy, good teenagers, learned so much from Barney! But, they also heard the spoken word, used the computer, played outside, drew pictures, talked to each other, and experienced life in many different forms. Television wasn’t their life.
Parents are working. In most cases both parents are working and sometimes one or both parents are working two jobs. Sometimes there is a second language involved. Sometimes a parent can’t read or write. Economic difficulties play a large part in language deficits. When both parents work hard just to pay the bills there’s nothing left of their energies or their funds to explore the world with their children.
Back ground knowledge of many children today is extremely limited. I stop frequently during my reading to clarify vocabulary that I never would have clarified ten years ago. Garage, buffalo, slugger, shipyard, dock, camel… the list goes on. Children don’t need to have been everywhere to be able to recognize vocabulary. It helps, but it’s not realistic in our society.
The Internet, Smartboard, picture books, television, videos, virtual field trips, all of these can help bring the world to our children. It’s the way we, as teachers, parents, and concerned adults in the twenty-first century are going to have to bring the world to our children if we want them to reach their potential. Language is the most vital component of learning. Our kids need to see it, hear it, even play with it. Language!