It's been a while since schooling was disrupted due to a certain pandemic, but the catch-up work to help children strengthen their literary continues inside this speech therapy centre.
WordUp Speech at Bangor has been open for less than two years, but has seen more school-aged children - and even those in preschool, in need of additional vocabulary support.
Recent figures from Speech Pathology Australia reveal one in five Australian children are developmentally behind in their language skills before they start school. Those who start school with a language delay, often stay behind.
That's where crucial intervention steps in. As part of November's Speechie Library Talks campaign, free one hour information sessions will be held, giving families the opportunity to learn more about how they can help develop their child's language and literacy.
Topics covered in the speech pathologist's presentation include choosing the best books for your child, ways parents and carers can help to build language and literacy, encouraging interactions, how to support multi-lingual children through book reading, what to do if your child is having difficulties with reading.
Speech therapist Danielle McGettigan is participating in the campaign. She says since the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for speech support has grown.
"We've noticed more kids who are now in year 1-3 coming in - they missed those foundational skills in kindergarten during lockdown," she said. "We also see some 18 month-old children who had been at home the whole time and because they hadn't had interactions they hadn't started talking yet. It's the impact of isolation."
Although the NDIS offers government financial assistance to children who qualify, a national review of the model is clamping down on cases that are in most need. Ms McGettigan said more support was needed for Medicare rebated sessions.
"With the chronic disease management, there are five rebated sessions but if you have a speech sound disorder or language delay, that's not enough to get you even close to where you need to be," she said.
But the speech therapist welcomes a greater focus on teaching phonics in primary school, where children are being taught to sound out letters and words in a back-to-basics approach. "The curriculum has gone back to structured literacy with a systematic approach, and thank goodness for that," Ms McGettigan said. "It's the best way to teach the vast majority of children how to read. I've seen a remarkable difference in kids who are taught this way."
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