Toddlers as well as parents are anxious and overwhelmed with emotions on the child’s first day of schooling for very different reasons. Children obviously feel perplexed and uneasy thinking about the new environment and people after enjoying thoroughly at the comfort of their home. Parents are equally anxious thinking about their children and hope that everything goes well for their kids. As parents, we would have done our duty of searching for a great school that satisfies our individual priorities (some might prefer schools that excel academically while others might wish for extra-curricular activities too) and admitted our children into one of the best schools. All these aside, have we ever taken a minute to ponder and check whether our kids are school-ready?
Pediatricians set milestones for the child as soon as he/she is born assigning tasks such as rolling over at the age of three months, crawling at the age of six months and so on. Doctors assess newborns between 1 and 5 minutes after birth and declare the Apgar score for the baby based on five different categories. Frequent visits to the doctor keep the parent up-to-date on the baby’s health status. Despite all these, problems with speech, senses or language go unnoticed and the trouble begins once the child starts attending school.
Sensing Your Child’s Sense-readiness
Parents fully equip their children with books, stationary and bags while sending off kids to kindergarten or class 1. Satisfying these needs don’t sound convincing enough but parents rarely look beyond these to gauge whether their kids are ready for school. One must fully understand that a child learns to enjoy schooling only when his/her hearing, vision, speech and language are fully developed as per age. Any disparities regarding these must be addressed first before packing off your kids to the school.
As you read this, some might even brand this measure as ‘over-precaution’, but this strongly exists as a mandatory requirement for the wellness of your child. You might have sent your toddler to the daycare without any complaints or he/she might have seemed fine at home. That’s because rarely problems pertaining to the senses, speech or language are not detected or the child might have a lazy eye or slight hearing loss that goes unnoticed.
Ears to Hear
Almost all infants are screened for hearing and vision soon after birth and when any newborn is diagnosed with hearing loss/impaired vision, the physician arranges for necessary intervention such as hearing aids or cochlear implants. These standby aids must start no later than the infant’s sixth month so that children with hearing loss can develop language skills that help them converse and share their happiness. It might also be possible that the kid suffers from no hearing loss problem since birth but suddenly develop it later due to many different reasons such as head injuries, meningitis or repeated ear infections.
A noisy classroom proves to be a tough fight for kids suffering from mild hearing problems and the teachers might even misunderstand the unnoticed hearing loss as attention deficiency in such kids as these children miss out on many instructions and lessons simply because they don’t hear clearly.
Hearing others speak helps a child learn new words and understand different concepts. Children become functional with a new language by listening to others and engaging in conversations. When hearing impairments are present, the kids might lack a full-fledged comprehension of the language nor do they possess 100% speech skills. Another kind of language problem called the specific language impairment or developmental language disorder affects around 7% of children in kindergarten. Children with this problem do not possess the ability to learn new words, might have minimal vocabulary skills or might speak grammatically incorrect sentences.
Blame on Parents
Sometime back, the blame was shouldered by parents entirely for their child’s language disability. They were accused of spending less time reading books or speaking with their kids, but research shows multiple other causes too related to this. A study that included children with learning disabilities or dyslexia directed the cause to genes, meaning that language impairments tend to run in families. Genes can inject dyslexia into a person, but it also remains within the person’s territories to delay or minimize its impact on the person with a healthy lifestyle and exercise. Read more about this at www.firsteatright.com.
Despite continuous learning, kids don’t overcome language impairments completely. While their vocabulary expands and their language skills improve they do suffer from side effects even after graduation or starting to work. To bring this to bare minimum it is advisable to diagnose specific language impairment before kindergarten and start the kid on language therapy.
Eyes to See
Small kids too can suffer from poor vision and this is common among preschoolers who tend to ignore the problem owing to lack of knowledge. These children feel that its normal to see double or to possess a blurry vision. But this might lead to headache, straining the eyes to see clearly or attention difficulties due to lack of clarity to view the blackboard. Improper vision is mostly due to amblyopia or lazy eye which happens when the two eyes point in two different directions or when one eye produces a better image than the other.
Some kids have trouble reading words on the blackboard (nearsighted) while rarely some kids might find difficulty reading books that produce a nearby image (farsighted). Wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses can correct this problem.
Screening Before Learning
The best way to identify the problem at the earliest stage is to screen preschoolers for hearing loss or vision impairment. But, screening only identifies the problem and it is advisable that the child goes for regular examination to an eye specialist. Detecting the problem at an early stage and treating it help kids achieve better a hearing, vision and language experience. Overall, they get to enjoy a full-fledged learning experience.
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