‘Both environmental and developmental factors contribute to a child’s ability to communicate.’
A child’s social capabilities develop heavily in relation to their personal growth and the environment in which they’re exposed to. Communication can be defined as the conveying or exchanging of information by speaking, writing or using another medium. This essay explores the highly influential factors and the ways in which they affect a child’s ability to communicate effectively. Communication involves the capability to listen to what others are going through. In other words, a significant part of communication is not just speaking, but hearing what others have to say. The most common way to communicate is through the spoken language. In saying this language refers to various of communication, this includes auditory language, such as speaking and listening, as well as written language, which involves writing and reading. Communication also includes body language like facial expressions and other non-verbal movements that express meaning. During early stages children are forming their own understanding of language, there are numerous factors that have the capacity to influence development. These circumstances are different for every individual. Children among the ages of two and five are particularly susceptible to these influences, so it's important for parents and caregivers to be aware of them. The development of language and social skills heavily influence a child’s ability to communicate. These abilities develop at a different rate for every person, it is heavily depended upon by the environment they are exposed to, the people that they’re surrounded by and level of interaction that a child is exposed to.
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The development of language and literacy skills in early childhood is vital to ensure children have the appropriate social skills needed in order to communicate. Language is a strong communication tool (Moyles, 1989) which fosters children’s abilities. Children don’t exhibit the appropriate linguistic skills required to communicate within their families may be lacking in the social skills that are needed to develop strong and positive relationships may result in the inability to express oneself properly. An instinctive trait in people is the want to bond with others, to be communal and have their own distinct requirements met by others in the form of communication (Fellowes & Oakley, 2014, p. 18). The biggest impact on language acquisition in the early years of a child’s life is one’s family. The everyday discussions that are had within the household that are observed by young children have an influence on their language acquisition. Family communication refers to the way verbal and non-verbal information is exchanged between family members (Epstein, Bishop, Ryan, Miller, & Keitner, (1993)). Family members are the first people that we interact with after being born into the world. Loving, nurturing homes that provide opportunities for growth and bonding are where a child’s development thrives. (Virtual Medical Centre, 2010, para 1). A child’s vocabulary prospers with the influence of their siblings around them in their early years. The observation of conversations that go on in a child’s family provide a basis for early development of language. Communication within the family is particularly important because it allows the members to put forward their wishes, needs, and worries. Open and honest interaction generates an atmosphere that lets families put forward their differences as well as love and affection for one another. It is completed through discussions that involve family members resolving the inevitable difficulties that ascend in every families. Successful communication is found in solid, wholesome families. Reduced amount of communication typically originates in unhealthy domestic relationships. Poor communication is unclear and indirect. It can lead to numerous family problems, including excessive family conflict, ineffective problem solving, lack of intimacy, and weak emotional bonding. Researchers have discovered a strong link between communication patterns and satisfaction with family relationships (Noller & Fitzpatrick, 1990). The communicational skills that are absorbed through family interaction are the foundation of a child’s language acquisition before they begin school.
When children begin school there becomes a new basis for communication, one that is more formal. Communication skills are crucial to networking and contributing in all aspects of a child’s settings. School-age children will generate an understanding on the four major factors of communication: listening, talking, reading, and writing. When children get to school, they become thoughtful and purposeful. The school environment and the other students results in them reflecting and think more coherently about the world around them and their lives. This results in them being more considerate and sometimes raising the more difficult questions. As school-age children become more self-regulating, they tend to not communicate or respond well to the authority figures in their lives. This can be worrying for parents; however, this is a very normal part of the child’s development of communication. When children get to high school, they may also question their educators and staff members, as they are beginning to take risks and trial limits. Another aspect that becomes evident within the secondary school aged children is social networking online. Social networking is a modern technology that has radically altered the way in which youth communicate. Applications such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have entirely transformed the way in which students are able to communicate and share information and photos with just about anyone. Throughout ‘Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less From Each Other’, it explored that many children believed their parents paid less attention to them than to their smartphones, often times neglecting to interact with them face to face until they had finished responding to emails (Turkle (2012)). That is why it is crucial to model good behaviour and follow your program’s policy for staff cell phone use. As always, check with your program director on the specific policy on Internet use, cell phone use, social networking, and texting for school-age children and youth. Not every child has access to these technologies, it depends highly on their parents and the access they have to technology.
School-age children and youth can also be influenced by their surroundings and environment, which may affect the way they communicate. They may begin to use language from a popular television show or integrate what they hear from their friends into their vocabulary. School-age children and youth may also begin changing their communication methods depending on where they are and what they have access to. They might speak one way to a family member or teacher, and then adopt a different approach when speaking with peers. By evaluating the social economic status-based variables in children's exposure to language, Hart and Risley (1995: 192-193) observed that “although other aspects of parenting are also important, the amount of talking that goes on between child and parent may be the most important for the language-based analytic and symbolic competencies upon which advanced education and a global economy depend”. The environment and the level of stimulation that occurs within it is a highly influential for a child’s learning. Cohen states that “cognitive development at an early age is essential for a child’s ability to be able to exploit, learn and adapt to their surrounding environment” (2012). Without being sufficiently stimulated a child has no proper opportunities to learn and develop language. For example, the studies that were conducted after the discovery of Genie Wiley in 1970. This particular individual is an advocate for the notion that a child requires interaction in order to develop proper speech and vocabulary. The environment that Genie Wiley was exposed to for several years with little to no human interaction. When she was finally found and taken care of by the authorities, the room was she was found in was inhumane and by this time it was too late, and she was unable to develop efficient language conventions. The socio-economic status highly influences a child’s language acquisition.
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There are so many influences that contribute to an individual’s communication development. It is not one specific thing that determines a way that a child’s communication skills, through interaction and supporting environments a child’s social skills prosper. Most of the social skills that students learn from the beginning of schooling to the conclusion through the relationships. These skills that are learnt are the attributes that employers look for when they emerge out of school.
- Moyles, J. (1989). Just playing?. England: Open University Press, p.Chapter 3.
- Alison Lafortune, A. A. (2017). What Is the Family Impact on Early Childhood Development. Retrieved from https://www.livestrong.com/article/267910-what-is-the-family-impact-on-early-childhood-development/
- Virtual Medical Centre. (2010) Parenting, the social environment and its effects on child development. Retrived from https://www.myvmc.com/lifestyles/parenting-the-social-environment-and-its-effects-on-child-development/
- Epstein, N. B. Bishop, D., Ryan, C., Miller, & Keitner, G., (1993). The McMaster Model View of Healthy Family Functioning. In Froma Walsh (Eds.), Normal Family Processes (pp. 138-160). The Guilford Press: New York/London.
- Noller, P., & Fitzpatrick, M. A. (1990). Marital communication in the eighties. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 52, 832-843.
- SNOW, P. Powell, M. Youth (in)justice: oral language competence in early life and risk for engagement in antisocial behaviour in adolescence [online]. Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice [electronic resource], No. 435, April 2012: 1-6.
- Drago, E. (2015). The Effect of Technology on Face-to-Face Communication. Strategic Communications. The Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications, Vol. 6, No. 1. 13-19.
- Cohen, D. (2012). How the Child's Mind Develops. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.
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