What to Do If Lockdowns Have Hurt Your Child’s Speech and Language Skills

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Posted by: Sue Atkins

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Show notes:

In this episode:

  • The Big Ask – Finding Out What Your Kids Think Will Make Them Happier After the Pandemic
  • 30 Great Resources to Teach Kids Financial Literacy
  • Sue Atkins in Conversation with Jo Fitzgerald Youth Mental Health First Aid Trainer & Co-Creator of the Primary 2 Secondary Programme for Schools, Students, Teachers and Parents

Listen to the Expert Interview

Connect with Jo

Website – Tiny Sponges

Website – Jo Fitzgerald

Facebook – Jo Fitzgerald

Facebook Group – Tiny Sponges

Twitter – @TinySponges

Instagram – @tinysponges


This Episode’s Sponsor :

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There is growing evidence that the past year of lockdowns has had an impact on young children’s language skills, according to research.

Data from 50,000 pupils and a survey of schools across England have shown an increased number of four- and five-year-olds needing help with language.

Evidence shows poor speech development can have long-term effects on learning. The government says it is investing £18m in early-years catch-up, including extra help for those in Reception year.

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) research suggests the measures taken to combat the pandemic have deprived the youngest children of social contact and experiences essential for increasing vocabulary.

Less or no contact with grandparents, social distancing, no play dates, and the wearing of face coverings in public have left children less exposed to conversations and everyday experiences.

Of 58 primary schools surveyed across England:

76% said pupils starting school in September 2020 needed more support with communication than in previous years

96% they were concerned about pupils’ speech-and-language development.

And 56% of parents were concerned about their child starting at school following the lockdown in the spring and summer.

Top Tips:

  1. Get your child’s attention first: Get down to your child’s level and engage their attention before speaking or asking a question. Young children can find it challenging to listen and carry on with an activity at the same time. Saying their name first to get their attention encourages them to stop and listen.


  1. Give your child time to respond: Children often need time to put their thoughts together before answering, so give them longer to respond than you would with an adult. Make sure to maintain eye contact as you wait for them to complete their remark.


  1. Use all their senses to help teach new words: Make learning new vocabulary fun and memorable. For example, if you’re teaching the names of fruits, encourage your child to feel and smell the various fruits as they learn the words. Another idea is to use familiar songs and rhymes as a learning tool by missing out words for your little one to fill in.


  1. Build on what your child says to you: Talking very clearly, add one or two more words to your child’s sentence. For instance, if your child says ‘look, lorry’, you could say ‘yes, it’s a large green lorry’. By doing this you’ll be signalling that you’ve heard what they’ve said and modelling the next stage of language development.


  1. Use the full range of expression: Speak in a lively, animated voice and use gestures and facial expressions to back up your words. You may feel like you are a CBeebies presenter but it’s a great way to engage your child. You’ll be giving more clues about what your words mean. This can be very useful if your child is struggling to understand language. You’ll also be demonstrating the importance of non-verbal communication.


  1. Rather than criticise, demonstrate the right way: Praise the child’s efforts, even if the results aren’t perfect. If your child makes a mistake with a word or in a sentence, simply say the correct version rather than pointing out the mistake. For example, if the child says ‘I goed’ to the park’, you might say ‘yes you went to the park today – and didn’t we have lots of fun in the sunshine?’.

  1. Use simple, repetitive language: Keep sentences short. Describe what you are doing during everyday activities (‘I’m washing a green mug’). Repeat your words nice and clearly. Saying things more than once makes it easier for children to join in and pick up new words.


  1. Imitate your child’s language: With very young children, simply imitate their words and sentences. This will show them that you’re valuing their words and will encourage them to keep on talking.


  1. Be careful with questions: Try not to ask too many questions, especially ones that sound like you’re testing your child. The best questions are those that challenge your child to think rather than give an instant answer, like yes or no. Too many questions can block the flow of natural conversation. Think about using more open ended questions like ‘Why do you think ..? not ‘closed questions that require just a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer – like ‘Are you hot?’


  1. Make learning language fun! Play around with words, sounds and sentences. Don’t be afraid to talk in funny voices or have daft conversations. The more children see you experimenting with language, the more likely they will be able to try it for themselves. Experimenting with language is a vital aspect of learning.



Sing songs and nursery rhymes – read stories and ask questions about the characters and story line to get your child talking.

Be a good role model

Speak clearly and calmly.

Use age-appropriate language.

Make eye contact (get down to the child’s level if necessary)

Repeat sentences back to children, replacing mistakes with corrections.

Repeat sentences back to children, expanding on the words they’ve used.

Describe and comment on what you’re doing.


Pause to Ponder..

Be a gardener, not a carpenter.

Carpenters carve wood into the shape they want. Gardeners help things to grow on their own by cultivating a fertile soil.


Rachel de Souza is the Children’s Commissioner for England. Her job is to speak up for children in England, stand up for their rights, and make sure that the people in power listen to what children need and want.

It’s time to give something big back to young people like you after COVID — and she needs your help to do it.

This is the largest ever survey of children and young people in England. We’ll use what you tell us to show the government what you think, and what children need to live happier lives.

This survey will only take you 5-10 minutes.

[ec_link text=”Take the Quick Survey” background_color=”#72b74d” position=”center”]https://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/thebigask/[/ec_link]


Awesome Girls: 30 Resources to Teach Kids Financial Literacy

[ec_link text=”Visit the Book Club” background_color=”#46af4d” position=”center”]https://sueatkinsparentingcoach.com/2021/04/awesome-girls-30-resources-to-teach-kids-financial-literacy/[/ec_link]

Financial literacy is an essential skill for every child to learn! Money is an integral part of modern life, and whether your child is a pre-schooler counting coins, an elementary school child saving for a new toy, a tween learning about investing, or a teen budgeting for school expenses or their first full-time job, there are plenty of opportunities to teach kids how to earn, save, spend, donate, and invest. And yet a recent study from the Girl Scouts found that only 12% of girls aged 8 to 17 feel very confident making financial decisions, proof that we need to do more to improve kids’ financial literacy.

In this blog post, we’ve showcased our favourite resources to help kids (and maybe parents too!) learn more about money and how to manage it. From play money that helps young kids learning to identify coins and bills, to books that introduce concepts like debt, entrepreneurship, and investing to older kids, and even a few titles to guide parents in money conversations, these resources will help you give your Mighty Girl the confidence to manage her money successfully — and use it to plan for her future.

Manage Money Like a Mighty Girl: 30 Resources to Teach Kids Financial Literacy | A Mighty Girl


Harvard psychologist to parents: Do these 7 things if you want to raise kids with flexible, resilient brains.

[ec_link text=”Read Here” background_color=”#7bc454″ position=”center”]https://www.cnbc.com/2020/12/08/harvard-psychologist-rules-for-raising-intelligent-kids-with-resilient-brains.html[/ec_link]



Check out Sue’s Checklists to help you or visit her Parenting Shop for more engaging material!

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