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Kids Have Hard Time Learning to Speak. And SAHMs are Lazy or Something

Interesting story from the UK here reporting that 4% of kids can't talk by age 3. The article includes a strange swipe at SAHMs, too, but let's leave that for a minute and look at the substance.

Late speaking is identified as being a problem, because if a child can't talk, then it's hard to learn other important things, and they start out life behind. The article is quick to mention that many children who talk late, though, do just fine later in life. My own aunt didn't speak much as a small child, but she's a brilliant doctor today. So I'm not too picky about it.

However, I do think there are things parents can do to encourage speech. The article mentions singing to them, and I'd certainly do that. I read to my children every night before bed starting when they were six months old. We used board books, and sang and did quick little stories. They turned the pages a lot, and didn't always seem like they were paying attention, but they learned a ton! And their favourite things as children were books.

Every week we walked to the library, even when they were just babies. We'd sing while they were in the stroller, and we'd chat. I kept a running conversation with my babies all the time, even when they were only a few hours old. I always find it strange to be with a mother who doesn't talk to her baby. Babies like listening to you talk, and that's how they learn to talk. I'd just tell Becca what I was doing, or what I was thinking of making for dinner, or what should be on my shopping list. The content didn't matter; it was the fact that you were reading. Remember that scene from Three Men and a Baby when Tom Selleck reads Sports Illustrated aloud? The baby just likes hearing you.

This is stuff that hopefully we all know. Yet the article then throws in a really weird comment:

The survey of more than 1,000 parents found that a child’s background was not a factor in how quickly they learnt to talk. Working parents who put their babies in day care are just as likely to have a child whose speech develops late as those who leave their baby in front of the television.

So basically it's dividing parents into two types: those who are the good ones, who put their kids in day care where they can "learn", and those who don't put their kids in care, who obviously just dump them in front of the television. (Perhaps it's dividing between working parents who put their kids in day care and working parents who put their kids in front of a TV, but that doesn't make much sense. I think the second group of parents must be stay at home parents, as if saying that we stay at home parents don't do anything valuable at all).

The media likes to hype the benefits to kids of daycare, but there's no evidence that there's any lasting impact academically from daycare. For some lower income single parents, day care does help kids in kindergarten and grade 1. But the benefits evaporate by grade 4.

You know what helps a child learn to talk? Being with people who love him or her and who want to talk to him or her. You don't need to send your child to daycare to teach them things. You really can do it yourself. And I do wish the media would start giving stay at home moms a little bit more credit.

If you enjoyed this post, and want to hear more about how to build a family that has fun together and grows together, listen to Sheila's audio download "Joy Filled Families"! All about how to grow intimacy, fun, and togetherness inside your home.
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At 9:22 AM , Blogger Courtney said…

I enjoyed this post. I have people all the time look at me with ridicule because I stay at home with our son rather than putting him in Daycare. I would much rather be responsible for teaching him things that I think he needs to know than trusting someone else to do it for me. I agree with you...a child develops when they are around people who take the time to teach them. And in some cases, that may very well be a daycare worker rather than a parent. Great usual :)


At 10:08 AM , Blogger Michelle said…

I had a high needs baby so he was awake and constantly nursing for most of infancy. The only way I could cope was to wear him in a baby sling or a mei tai while I mopped the floor or did safe food preperation, grocery shopped etc. I never grocery shopped without him because he always had to be attached to mama. During this constant attachment, we always talked to each other, and face to face. "Oops, mama almost forgot to get corn.. where is corn? Oh, there it is?" My little guy spoke early and now at 2.5 he speaks extremely well and I attribute that in part to his personality and in part to 2.5 years of breastmilk and babywearing.


At 10:13 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I'm a working mom, now, but was blessed to be able to stay home while both of my kids (now 12 and 8) were little. It was a wonderful time and if I were to get pregnant now, it would kill me to have to put my baby in daycare.

That said, my daughter wasn't speaking by the time she was two. My husband and I figured it was because she had a big brother to interpret for her.

Well, long story short, the pediatrician referred us to a speech therapist and within a year and a half, my daughter was talking.

The problem I have with this article (not your post, certainly) is that it makes broad generalizations that throw everyone under the bus. SAHM aren't necessarily plopping their kids in front of the TV more than moms who put their kids in daycare are power-driven women trying to further her career.

I think what it all comes down to is that children develop at different rates - regardless of where they spend most of their time.


At 10:57 AM , Blogger Nurse Bee said…

I don't really see the offense against SAHMs in the article. The statement about daycare vs. television didn't really make much sense, though. But there isn't exactly a direct reference to stay-at-home parents.

My daughter seems to be a bit of a late talker and I was worried for a while as everyone knows you should read to to your kids. She would just scream everytime I opened a book for the first year. But we left the books out and eventually she would look through them and now grabs one every 5 minutes and plops down in my lap!


At 12:22 PM , Blogger Tessa said…

I used my moby wrap all the time with my son and talked to him all the time. I can totally relate to your comment about moms who don't talk to their babies. It must get very lonely for them :) Even my mom talked to my son when he was a newborn (though she did it in Dutch because she told me she didn't know how to talk English to a baby).
Anyway, with the babywearing and breastfeeding and all the reading I do and talking to him that I do, he's nearly 2 and only says a handful of words. People have mentioned they think it's because we sign with him so he doesn't have to talk. He just proved those people wrong by learning to say "water," which was also one of his first signs. He now says it and signs it. I have no concerns about his lack of speaking skills because he completely understands what I'm telling him and I know that his onw speech will develop in due time.

As for the comment about the TV, it seems to me like a jab at SAHMs who don't put their kids in day care. If the writer of that article thinks those are the only two options that are available for children then I must say that I feel sorry for his/her upbringing.


At 12:49 PM , Blogger Laura said…

I'm a SAHM and I didn't really see any reason to take offense in the quote you shared. I saw it more that the point was kids being "socialized" (not that SAHM don't socialize their kids but the world sees daycare as socializing) and "not socialized" by being in front of a tv all day. I guess I'm just not sure how the conclusion was made that the tv sitters must belong to SAHMs just because daycare was mentioned.

I did baby sign with my kiddos just for fun. And it WAS fun and I highly recommend it. Both kids talked plenty well before they turned two.


At 1:04 PM , Blogger Sheila said…

Glad so many of you loved talking to your babies, too!

A couple of you think I'm being too sensitive. Could be! Maybe I've got PMS or something.

But I do think the writer of this article was setting up a dichotomy--either working parents who put their kids in daycare, OR parents who put their kids in front of the TV.

Generally, when you set a sentence up like that grammatically, you're talking either/or. Otherwise there's no reason to write that.

So on the one hand you have the working parents/day care lot, and on the other hand you have--well, this one is a little more tricky. Obviously it's parents who set their kids in front of a TV, but which parents would that be? It's not working parents, because their kids are in daycare.

Perhaps the writer didn't mean that all SAHMs put their kids in front of the TV (in fact, they probably didn't mean that), but it's still just sloppy writing, and gives that impression anyway.

Why can't they just say something positive about parents who are home with their kids for a change?


At 4:00 PM , Blogger Civilla said…

You have to talk to your children. They won't talk early if nobody talks to them. Also, reading to them is great. My children watched tv, and their favorite was the Charlie Brown videos, which spoke a lot of dialog but slowly, so they could catch on. Children DO find their own level, though, eventually, with or without that stuff.


At 7:50 PM , Blogger Nurse Bee said…

There is more than daycare and SAHMs: my daughter goes to a babysitter...a SAHM, an arrangement I am much more comfortable with than taking her to a commercial daycare center or even a home daycare (and I might add she does not sit in front of the tv there either).

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Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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