Preschool is where your child's classroom learning journey begins. Sometimes though, parents wonder if their child is ready to be a student or if her skills are level with her peers. SmartParenting.com.ph asked a few experts to answer questions about speech and literacy skills in preschoolers.
My preschooler has trouble putting sentences together. Is there something wrong with her?
Answer from Landa Bautista, curriculum director at The Learning Center, Inc., Parañaque City
“There is a possibility that your child may be hyperlexic. Hyperlexia is the ability to read words beyond the normal expectation of a certain age, even if hyperlexic children are very fascinated with letters and numbers. But while this may be considered as a 'super ability,' hyperlexics have difficulties of their own. Your child may have a difficult time understanding verbal language, and answering who, what, when, where, why, and how questions.
“Hyperlexics need intensive therapy sessions because of their struggle to communicate. If you think your child may have this difficulty, then you should bring him to a professional for immediate evaluation. The sooner you do this, the better, so that you can avoid further problems such as your child’s inability to conduct himself well socially.”
I'm worried my son may not be at the same reading level as his classmates. What can I do?
Bautista: “To get her interested in reading, choose books with lots of colorful pictures and big print. Read to her as often as you can, and make sure that the story you select is easy to follow. At this age, children like hearing about characters who go through scary situations but end up succeeding, or animals with traits similar to humans. Fairy tales are other favorites of children age 4 to 6.
“You may introduce your child to such material, but don’t be alarmed if she hasn’t caught the reading bug just yet. Reading is taught to a child, but the development of this skill is not the same in all kids. Just keep on encouraging your little one and allow her to discover the exciting worlds that reading has to offer.”
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Can I enroll my child in a preschool even if he can’t speak clearly (bulol)?
Answer from Dos Gallardo-De Jesus, speech and language pathologist
“You can definitely enroll your toddler with speech delays to a preschool. In fact, I encourage progressive schools for language, cognitive and social stimulation and development. As a rule of thumb, you may begin school or play school as soon as your toddler is toilet trained or has begun potty training.
“Common reasons for delay in speech can be too much TV. Although educational, it’s not an interactive experience and may impede language development. Also, interaction with peers is imperative. Spending time with your kids is always great, but it does not compare with playing with other children their age.
“Given that there are no medical or developmental impediments, you may enroll your child in play school or music classes or even barangay day care centers.”
“If the results of the evaluation show that your child does have a difficulty, especially with speech, don’t panic. This means that your child’s development is delayed, but with the help of a professional, she can get the help she needs. The sooner the delay is identified, the better. That way, your child can start therapy sessions immediately.”
What are the techniques I can use to teach my 4-year-old to read?
Answered from Kachela Albert-Mariano, education expert
“Some four-year-olds may still have different reading levels. The most basic thing that you can teach your child when learning how to read is sound recognition. You will have to expose him to different letters, especially vowels, and their sounds by simply pointing and pronouncing the letters.
“Once you deem that he has recognized at least some of the different sounds of letters, you may start on teaching CVCs or three-letter words composed of consonant-vowel-consonant. Pick a word family that you may want to teach. Write in 'at' in one card and consonants in another batch.
“Let your child pick the card with consonant that he can put together with the bigger card, for example, 'c' '-at.' Make sure that he knows what he has pronounced by pointing to a picture or showing the real thing. Increase your word families as soon as you perceive he has learned enough.
“After CVCs, you may begin four-letter word families such as 'bake-cake' etc. Pointing to familiar words that he sees will also help increase his reading level.”