While some English sounds emerge later than others, why is it beneficial to address articulation before kindergarten?
In Manhattan, speaking clearly, having a vast vocabulary, and using appropriate grammatical skills are critical for private school kindergarten admission. At age four, when your child is applying to kindergarten, he is expected to be a confident, clear speaker.
When your child speaks with clear articulation, his command of speech can help him master:
1. Reading with fluency and accuracy – Your emergent reader learns how each phoneme has a distinct feature controlled by articulation. For example, when your child speaks clearly, he makes the distinction between the words “ship” and “chip.” Reading a word incorrectly impacts story meaning.
2. Dictionary spelling – Pronouncing high-frequency sight words with correct articulation helps your child learn to read, and commit the words to long-term memory. This helps your child learn predictable spelling patterns. Articulating common spelling patterns helps your child to be a strong speller and reader.
3. Writing – It is easier to make the transition from speech to print with strong articulation skills. As a child learns to stretch out sounds in words and use inventive spelling (e.g., catrplr for caterpillar), he relies on his ability to articulate the word clearly and write as many sounds as he hears. Children with strong articulation skills are typically more confident and take greater risks expressing their ideas in writing.
4. Making Friends – It’s easier to engage in pretend play, lunchtime conversation, and playground fun when your peers understand you.
5. Looking mature for his age – Poor articulation may appear (e.g., tongue thrust) and sound immature. His articulation may not match the sophistication of his language and the important information he has to share.
6. Enjoying free time (not in speech therapy) – Your pre-schooler probably has more free time now. Once he begins kindergarten, the school day may be longer, and after-school options multiply.
Often parents hold off on speech therapy, thinking their child will grow out of their inability to say certain sounds. While this may be true, it would be best for a speech therapist to determine the severity of the articulation delay. Together, you and the speech therapist should decide the best plan of action for your child.
Stephanie Sigal M.A. CCC-SLP is a speech-language therapist working with children in their Manhattan homes on the Upper East Side. Marigrace Morris is a literacy specialist. If you live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and have questions about your preschooler, please contact Stephanie Sigal at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!