Working parents' kids can have speech woes

Working parents' kids can have speech woes

Spending quality time with children is crucial to their speech development, and the parents who fail to do so unknowingly prevent their kids’ growth, Jean Gross, a key government adviser, said.

According to her, middle-class parents often put their children in second-rate daycares and don’t even find time to read bedtime stories or eat with their children.
Children tend to do best when looked after by their mothers or another trusted adult, she said, adding that those placed in centres, which neglect early education, may suffer delayed speech development.

“All of us are so busy. Some middle-class families don’t sit down and eat with their children,” said Gross, who is preparing to publish her research showing how difficulties in learning to talk span across social classes.

“Adults lead increasingly busy lives and many are not able to spend as much time talking to their children as generations before.”

Speaking about an assessments of five-year-olds in the US, Gross said that 18 per cent -– more than 100,000 –- have fallen behind the expected level of speech development for their age.

About 50 per cent of youngsters in some areas are unable to link words together or even understand simple instructions, the psychologist said.

She further said that spending time in front of ‘machines’ such as TVs and computers instead of interacting with adults also hamper their development.

“Our brains have not evolved to learn from machines. Babies are primed to respond to a face, and to recognise their parents’ faces,” she said.

“I still think parents staying home and looking after their own children is ideal, or making sure a grandparent or trusted person will give a child that one-to-one intense development of language. Stating that many white British pupils are like foreigners in the classroom, she said: “I see children who are just as adrift as a child who has Bengali as their first language.

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