Speech Delay in Toddlers: What ECE Professionals Should Know

20th July 2021

As we all know the saying that – all five fingers of the hand are not equal, this same applies to children. Not all children are born equal. Some various problems or disorders can be seen in children but such problems need not be ignored. They should be given proper attention, guidance, support.

At an average rate, a child starts to talk at the age of 12 months. Initially, the child communicates through crying, gradually after 9 months he can pronounce words like ahh, oh, paa, maa, etc. At the age of 10 months, he can speak short words properly and the word limit gradually increases as per the months.

Speech delay is one such problem that can be seen in children. Speech delay is when children find difficulty in catching up with the words and tend to take time to speak the word properly. This doesn’t mean that children will not learn to talk or speak at all. It is just that they take more time in learning the speech and would require more effort.

As educators, we need to support them through this phase so that they learn properly without any guilt. The course in Early Years Care and Education help us with the effective techniques to deal with such issues in children. Following are a few of the techniques from the Early Years Care and Education program for teachers that will help us as the facilitator to direct children appropriately.

Focus on simple ways of teaching

Use flashcards – Regularly, maybe for some time teachers can focus on vocabulary building using flashcards. Flashcards are very useful to make learners understand the spelling and also through continuous repetition they tend to say the word and try to develop speech gradually.

Use sticky notes – Sticky notes can be placed on different corners of the classroom writing some instructions or guidelines. For the early young learners, it can be push or pull sticky notes on the door. Or else the learned vocabulary can be written on sticky notes and can be put on the book. With this children tend to repeat and learn the words.

Repeat – Children never learn at one go. There needs to be the constant repetition of the words. A teacher needs to constantly repeat the words and make the learners repeat so that when children continuously repeat they learn quickly. Thus repetition and positive reinforcement are very important.

Break down words – Children will be able to recognize and speak small words like cat, dog, fish, etc. But when it comes to big words, they end to mispronounce them or find difficulty in speaking the word and frame the sentence. So facilitators should break words and make them pronounce. For example – coloring can be taught as co-lo-r-ing. Thus breaking it and making it easy to pronounce and speak.

Play – Play is an essential part of childhood and no doubt it involves a lot of learning. Include various activities, games, play in your lesson plan that will include vocabulary and linguistics in the lesson. Using such activities helps them to learn unknowingly. Early years teachers can use this technique in the classroom thus making it fun, interesting, and learning at the same time. But during the activities, teachers need to focus on the main aim i.e. making learners speak.

Sing and recite rhymes, songs, etc. – Recite poems, rhymes and singing is also another fun way of making children learn with fun. Making learners speak is very important. Also, it is very important to understand the volume and the pace of the song or rhyme so that children understand the words properly and they try to speak them.

These are a few of the techniques that an early years educator should know. Also, it is very important to arrange parent's meeting at least once a month to guide them too with various techniques to help children speak. Proper knowledge should be given to them. Continuous observation is very important for teachers and parents on the child’s speech. Their progress can be traced. Also, teachers and parents need to encourage them and appreciate their efforts. Praising helps them to be positive and try and learn without any guilt. Such learners who find difficulty in speaking or has speech delay should not be compared. Children take things emotionally and may find offending. Rather raise and encourage them to do better.

Thus to conclude we can say that children should not be looked down on. There is a growing demand for early child educators to know such techniques for the effective teaching – learning process. Learning takes time and children will need time so it is very important for the teacher to be patient, empathetic, energetic, and innovative.

Written By: Lakshmi Sitaraman

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