McLeod, S., Crowe, K., Masso, S., Baker, E., McCormack, J., Wren, Y., Roulstone, S. Talking and making speech sounds is of greater concern for parents and teachers of 4- to 5-year-old children than other aspects of development.
|Sharynne, Sarah Masso and Yvonne Wren|
Early childhood is a time of maturation of skills including communication, motor, behavioural, social and academic learning skills. Most children succeed in these skills and are ready for school; some children have difficulties. Parents and teachers of 270 4- to 5-year-old Australian children within the first year of the Sound Start Project completed the 10 questions from the Parents Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS) (Glascoe, 2000) documenting areas of concern. There were 135 (50.0%) boys and 135 (50.0%) girls. The majority of children (76.3%) spoke English only, 21.1% spoke English + one other language, and the remainder spoke English + two or three other languages. Parents’ (P) and teachers’ (T) major areas of concern were children’s “talking and making speech sounds” (P=16.7%; T=16.3%), “understanding what you say” (P=6.7%; T=8.9%) and “behavior” (P=7.8%; T=3.0%). The other areas were generally of less concern: “learning preschool/school skills” (P=5.6%; T=3.0%), “getting along with others” (P=4.1%; T=4.4%), “using hands and fingers” (P=4.1%; T=4.4%), “using arms and legs” (P=3.7%; T=3.3%), and “learning to do things for self” (P=3.3%; T=3.3%). Whilst there are similarities between the concerns of parents and teachers, there were also differences. Understanding the source of these differences will be important to the planning of appropriate interventions. These comparative results show that parents and teachers identified preschool children’s speech and language as the major area of concern. The results underscore the importance of communication assessment and intervention to support children’s transition to school.