• User AvatarMiriam McKenzie
  • 15 Mar, 2023
  • 3 Mins Read

Why IS speech so important?

Let’s narrow that down a bit. Speech is important for all people but the reasons why differ from one person to the next, depending on their gender (even if you prefer not to be recognised as one particular gender), ethnicity, level of education, age.

Looking at age, what age should a child’s speech be clear?

If this statement is true, and I believe it is, to a certain extent –

“Oral language underpins all learning and all social interaction.”

Page 7, ‘Learning Through Talk’ Ministry of Education, Learning Media, Wellington, New Zealand, 2009.

Then you’d want your child’s speech to be clear by the time they start school. If a child starts school with a level of oral language that is below their current age this can cause challenges with making friends, which is possibly the most worrying aspect of poor oral language.

If children don’t have the vocab to chat with other children, they tend to remain silent. They can’t express themselves clearly, find it challenging to play with other children and are more likely to be alone in the playground.

They also can’t understand what the teacher is talking about, they can’t follow instructions. For the child, there is a level of frustration that can result in disruptive behaviour that affects the whole class and the teacher’s ability to, well, teach.

The delay in oral literacy means teachers have to spend more time bringing the children’s oral language up to the correct level before starting to teach them to read and spell, so they are on the back foot from the start.

How a child’s speech is not developing correctly affects other learning areas.

It 100% affects how they learn to spell. I have countless examples of poor speech affecting their ability to write and spell. At the same time it affects how they learn to read, if they can’t say a sound, being able to recognise what to say when they come across it in written form, hinders their progress in not only learning the word but the meaning behind the story.

Counting becomes challenging, an example is children saying ‘firty’ all the way through the thirties decade. While this may not seem as important, it is important to correct it so they aren’t mispronouncing words as they grow into adults.

Can’t understand your child’s speech? Or you can but others can’t.

Start here. In terms of correct articulation (how we say sounds and words), sometimes it’s just a matter of where to place our tongue. Correct tongue placement is actually crucial to clear speech. Unless there’s a physiological reason for incorrect tongue placement, exercises for the tongue and teaching the children the correct techniques to enunciate sounds, then words, then sentences, can improve a child’s speech rapidly.

The best time (in my opinion) to help children with speech difficulties is 3 1/2 – 6 years of age. This is when you can stop any bad habits forming and get the tongue working in the correct way. But, it is never too late, even for the bothersome TH sound (adults who were never corrected as children, now’s your chance to get it sorted).

So, how do you teach a child how to use their tongue correctly?

Watch the free preview from our online course Clear Speech for Children.

March giveaway – Clear Speech for Children $89NZD is free for one lucky person this month. Entry is easy, simply by enrolling in the school you can watch the free preview and you’re in.

BONUS! On the third Thursday of every month we have one hour live training. Come along with any questions about your speech, queries about the course, help with putting together a presentation…anything you’d like answered around all things speech, voice and communication. You receive advice, tips, techniques and exercises to help you achieve your ‘speeechie’ goal.

This training is now open to anyone who has purchased the Clear Speech for Children course. You and your child can attend the Zoom to follow along with the training, or just you if you have questions and want to learn how to help your child.

One hour training with one of Say It Clearly trainers is $195 so this is a real bargain!

Have a great week, Miriam.