Do you know this?

There are approximately 18000 parents registered with CARA, while the number of children in the Government's adoption pool is less 1800.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Teaching Language skills to adopted child

Generally children at orphanages are less talked to. The reason for this is the low ratio of staff workers to children at all the Indian orphanages. I'm not sure about the approximate figure but even if its 1:5, still I feel a staff worker would not be able to devote enough time to all children as compared to children who are biologically born to a family (the ratio would be reverse i.e. 5:1). This causes delay in development stages for all adopted children till they are brought home to stay with a family. The delay could be in multiple forms like physical growth, emotional growth, cognitive growth etc. In this post, I would like to focus on the cognitive growth aspects of how to teach adopted children language skills.

Infant children (i.e. below 2 years of age) and toddlers (2 to 5 years) are super learners of anything and everything in this world. We as adults although try to underestimate often children at this age group, but its obvious and proven that children learn extremely fast when given proper stimulation. In fact some study suggests that toddlers have the ability to learn around 11 languages during their first five years of growth.

So coming back to the language skills, the best way to start off with teaching children language skills is with the proven and time tested use of flash cards. You can get flash cards starting from alphabets, numbers, animals, opposites, learning time etc at any of the book shops, but you could also make your own flash card especially if you want to teach the child a language other than English. Here are few tips to start with:
  • Starting with alphabets, get hold of a flash card that would show a picture of an apple and just below it the word "Apple" with the alphabet 'A' emphasized. Don't focus initially on teaching your child only the alphabet but rather the whole word.
  • Repeat the word Apple with your finger pointing to the picture and loudly speak the word.
  • Repeat this many times and urge your baby to speak.
  • If possible get hold of a real apple and give it to your baby and encourage her to speak.
  • If she is able to speak, show her some form of encouragement like clapping or hugging her and urge her to do more.
  • Its better to group the flash cards based on category e.g. fruits' flash cards, animals' flash cards. In this way they would be able to associate the members of the group well. One of my colleague's son yelled "Doggy" the first time he saw an elephant at the zoo, because he could relate both dog (which he sad seen earlier) and elephant from the same group i.e. animals.
You will be surprised that by the tenth time you repeat, your baby will start trying uttering the word in some form of "Appy", "Appal". You should try this technique with day to day household objects like food items, table, chair, toys, dogs etc. which the baby can easily relate to.

I myself was surprised when my daughter who at the age of 15 months tried to utter the words like "umbrella" and "hammer" in her own way just by seeing the images of the objects (thanks to my wife). Hence visual aids are the best way to start teaching a child any language skills. This is not only applicable to adopted children but all in general, but is useful more in the case of adopted children as they don't get this kind of stimulation during their orphanage stay.

I would love to hear about the experiences of other people.

P.S. Few samples of good flash cards

1 comment:

The HOPE House said...

Loved the article. Photos made the article complete. Good job.