The first years of behavioral and academic development are especially important for children. The evaluation of developmental milestones can be performed based on the predictable courses that should be used by teachers. The early identification of any delays allows for choosing proper instructional strategies and activities to foster child development. This paper aims to examine the case of Billy, a 4-year-old boy with linguistic issues.
The chosen child uses only one-word sentences to respond to the teacher’s questions. Billy seems to be interested in exploring the world around him, yet he lacks proper language development. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), children at age 4 are expected to use complex sentences and engage in word play (Scharf, Scharf, & Stroustrup, 2016).
In the given case, Billy is 4 years and 8 months old, which is close to 5 years and greater expectations, including the narratives with a plot and intelligible speech. Considering that children can have various learning preferences, it is possible to admit that they can use short sentences, but Billy uses only one-word sentences. More to the point, the recommendations for linguistic skills’ evaluation mention the ability to report on past events, make jokes, and verbalizing imaginary roles (Scharf et al., 2016). Since Billy’s behaviors are not consistent with the mentioned expectation, it is critical to identify instructional strategies that can be adopted in a classroom and activities that can be practiced in a family.
The use of visuals to encourage Billy to speak more is the first instructional strategy that can be applied by the teacher in the classroom setting. For example, a more individualized system of gestures and pictures should be designed to aid the child in understanding where and how to use speaking (Lipponen, Rajala, Hilppö, & Paananen, 2016). The student should be seated in a position that motivates the use of longer sentences and processing of information.
It is important to understand the barriers that limit Billy’s speaking skills through a range of evaluations and observations. The second instructional strategy is to promote learning new words by verbalizing senses in terms of a multi-sensory approach. According to the latter, new concepts should be learned to build sentences to tell short stories or share previous events.
To ensure that Billy’s linguistic achievements would be improved, the teacher should collaborate with his pediatrician, occupational therapist, and psychologist. An interdisciplinary approach to addressing the identifying concern is effective to reveal the reasons for this delay and apply a full range of activities to address it. In particular, the teacher should contact the parents and advise them to contact the mentioned specialists, if they are not yet engaged in treating Billy. The diagnosis made by a developmental pediatrician can be supplemented by the considerations of a psychologist and neurologist. The cooperation with specialized experts can be performed via parents or directly by phone.
In home settings, Billy’s family can also help him in developing language skills. For example, the pictures of cars and real cars met in the streets can be used to motivate the child to speak about them. The family needs to try to extend the typical responses of their child by showing him how to apply longer sentences. Another activity that can be adopted by the family refers to the use of positive reinforcement to encourage story telling.
For example, the questions about preferred cars, their features, and other related information can be posed so that Billy can integrate his ideas and express them through sentences. The study by Salehi et al. (2018) shows that the more parents speak, the more effective is their child’s linguistic development. The teacher should meet with Billy’s parents as soon as possible since he needs an urgent action that is necessary to address the current delay. The student’s progress can be communicated either at school or his home settings. The parents should be explained that it is not a diagnosis yet an observation, while further consultations with specialists are required for Billy.
The examination of Billy’s linguistic skills shows that he has some delay that can be corrected by such instructional strategies as an individualized system of pictures and the multi-sensory approach. The student’s parents can use cars and their own communication to encourage their child to use longer sentences. The collaboration of the teacher with other specialists, such as a developmental pediatrician, psychologist, and occupational therapist, is critical.
Lipponen, L., Rajala, A., Hilppö, J., & Paananen, M. (2016). Exploring the foundations of visual methods used in research with children. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 24(6), 936-946.
Salehi, S., Khatoonabadi, A. R., Ashrafi, M. R., Mohammadkhani, G., Maroufizadeh, S., & Majdinasab, F. (2018). The relationship between emotional content and word processing in normal Persian speaking children. Iranian Journal of Child Neurology, 12(4), 140-152.
Scharf, R. J., Scharf, G. J., & Stroustrup, A. (2016). Developmental milestones. Pediatrics in Review, 37(1), 25-37.