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EDITIONS
 Thursday, 9 January, 2003, 11:15 GMT
Daily grunt parents hold children back
mouth
Not enough talking going on
Parents who do little more than grunt at their children every day are damaging their language development, a literacy expert has said.

Alan Wells, director of the Basic Skills Agency, says parents no longer talk to their children and instead just let them sit in front of the television or computer for hours.

He called communication in such families the "daily grunt".

Parental don'ts
Give monosyllabic replies to your child's questions
Let them watch too much television/play on computer too long
Skimp on time reading with your children
Mr Wells says schools should offer classes for parents to teach them how to talk and play with their children.

Speaking at the North of England Education Conference in Warrington, he said: "At the age when they come into school, many children have very few language skills at all.

'One-word answers'

"It's the children sat in front of the TV, children sat in front of the PC, the lack of families having food together, the lack of that sort of conversation.

Good ideas for chat
Play games which encourage communication
Make sure the whole family talks at mealtimes
Read with your children
Give reasoned answer to their questions
"I think there's quite a lot of monosyllabic conversations and one-word answering.

"That clearly has an impact on their learning as they go through the early stages of school."

Mr Wells said he had heard from primary school teachers that children were starting school with worse language skills than in the past.

He praised a scheme in Wales set up by the Basic Skills Agency, where parents were taught how to play creatively with their children.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's James Westhead
"Too many parents have lost the art of talking to and playing with their children"

Talking PointTALKING POINT
 Daily grunt
Why can't parents talk to their children?
See also:

26 Nov 02 | Education
26 Sep 02 | Education
04 Dec 01 | Education
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