Are we raising a nation of dunces?

first_imgSunday Star Times 23 June 2012Poor parenting and too many hours in front of the TV are being blamed for a “disturbing” rise in the number of children lacking the basic skills they need when they start school. One speech therapist had to teach a 5-year-old the word “banana”, and one Wellington school is running a programme to teach new entrants basic motor skills that include how to hang up their school bags. In Wairarapa, Masterton Primary School principal Sue Walters said: “We get a lot of kids who come to school who just can’t form proper sentences. “They have very limited vocabulary and some are operating at a 3-year-old’s level. You can’t teach kids to read and write if they can’t speak.” The problem was not necessarily socio-economic, but one of parenting, Ms Walters said. With individual attention from an articulate adult every day, pupils quickly progressed. Massey University senior lecturer in speech and language therapy Elizabeth Doell said that, though there were complex reasons why children had language difficulties, it was often because they didn’t have literacy experiences such as book reading or conversations at home.

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