Alison Palkhivavla writes that ”as many as 8% to 12% of [Canadian] preschoolers and 12% of children entering school have language impairment, defined as poor listening and speaking skills compared with peers. “ (1) Children with language impairment are often at risk of developing behaviour problems, academic difficulties, learning disabilities, shyness or even anxiety disorders. It is not hard to imagine why children with language impairment might have a more difficult time in early social settings, and in making friends. Sadly, many will also develop reading disorders.
Research tells us that early, regular, and fun child-adult interactions such as songs, rhymes, word play, and storytelling help children develop language skills that are in fact the foundation for all future literacy and learning.
Maureen Sanders, Co-Executive Director of the Centre for Family Literacy and consultant Janet Shively note in their article in the latest publication by the Vanier Institute of the Family, “Studies worldwide show that family influences on student achievement outweigh the effects of either school or community. Learning takes place in all families, among all generations, in all kinds of unique ways. It happens naturally in the daily process of “getting things done” and sharing experiences together. “ (2)
From the moment babies are born, parents and other caregivers need to be talking, reading, rhyming, singing and storytelling with their children. These verbal interactions can easily become part of many daily routines changing diapers, getting dressed, riding on the bus or in the car - and provide parents with tools for dealing with their children’s behaviour, as well as for building their children’s language skills.
It becomes abundantly clear that language is linked not only to literacy acquisition, but also to emotional, social, and academic development and lifelong resiliency. Language is indeed the portal to living and learning.
1. Language is the Door to Living and Learning, Canadian Council on Learning Early Childhood Learning Bulletin, June 2007,
2. Promising Practices in Family Literacy Programs, Transition, Summer 2007, page 9