I had been working with a third grade elementary school child for two months to improve his English sound articulation. He was making good progress. When we began to leave the strucutred sentence format and move into more spontaneous speech samples, a new issue emerged.
He truly had difficulty expressing himself. This is a child who goes to an Israeli public school, where Hebrew is spoken, and the family speaks English at home. I learned this issue is the same in spoken Hebrew.
The child has a good understanding of language concepts and rules. He is a pleasant and charming chld in his home setting, so how to help him?
The story slowly emerged: The parents worked long hours, and the chldren in the family had after-school activities. The chldren, except for the weekend, ate their meals with their child minder. There needed to be time put into the schedule for talking, for verbal interaction., in English as well as Hebrew.
A discussion ensued with the parents on how to have a conversation with their child. Questions like " where did you go?", " Who did you sit with on the bus?", "When did you see the new train?", were suggested, where the answer had to be given in a sentence. Techniques were suggested as to how to maintain the conversation to three or four
turns. Rehearsals were suggested on how to interact with adult relatives if the family was going out to visit famly.
Family participaton to improve speech and language goals is essential.