In a recent survey with 500 families, toucanBox found that less than half of parents know that arts and crafts can help develop language in young children.
This is particularly important on the day that the head of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman, warned that children are starting school unable to speak properly. “We now have a situation where, aged four, some children have less than a third of the English vocabulary of their peers. These children arrive at school without the words they need to communicate properly. Just imagine the disadvantage they face, right from the start. Unable to follow what’s going on. Unable to keep up with their classmates. Unable to reach their potential.”
Supporting this, a poll conducted by Oxford University Press with 473 primary school teachers, and published in TES, reported that almost half of Year 1 pupils had a word gap sufficient to negatively affect their learning. Teachers reported that this also affected pupils’ self esteem, mental health and wider life chances.
“Although a lot of discussion correctly emphasises the need for parents to read bedtime stories or nursery rhymes with their children as a way to decrease the word gap, parents should also be made aware that there are other fun and engaging activities children can do to expand their vocabulary and express themselves in meaningful ways”, explains Sara, Co-founder and Head of Product at toucanBox, who has over 15 years of Montessori teaching experience.
“Young children love to make art. Whether it’s paint, crayons, glue or glitter, they instinctively express themselves, and make sense of their world, through the process of creating art. It also teaches children to use words about colours, shapes, textures and verbs,” she continues.
“Children learn to use words to describe their feelings about the art they are making. When children engage in art and crafts at home, parents and carers have an opportunity to talk about it. The problem is that most adults don’t know how to. Instead of asking children, ‘What is that?’ they should ask why they have used certain colours or shapes, and what inspired them.”