Lockdown Slows Children's Speech Development

      June 24, 2022 13:01

      Doctors and teachers blame coronavirus lockdown for slower speech development in children. Experts said the lack of vital face-to-face interaction as children were cooped up at home has prevented them from acquiring the communication skills they need.
      Data from the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service shows that patients with speech problems increased from 12,866 in 2019, before the pandemic, to 14,693 last year, and 90 percent were under 10 years old.
      One 24-year-old staff member of a kindergarten in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province said, "Until 2019, a five-year-old child would be able to say 'I'm sorry' after fighting with a classmate and be able to identify fruits, and only about two or three children in a class of 15 would have problems in that area. But now up to 10 kids have problems."
      And a first-grade teacher in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province said, "Before 2019, there were only one or two students per class who were unable to say more than two sentences when speaking in front of the class, but now there are around seven to eight."
      This has led to a sharp increase in parents signing their kids up for private reading and writing classes or taking them to specialists. One private crammer in northeastern Seoul used to see five or six kids sign up per class, but now the number has tripled.
      "Not only are more children slow to develop speech skills, they also have problems reading and expressing their thoughts in words, which prompted us to increase the sizes of our classes," a teacher there said.
      Experts advise early treatment. Shin Yee-jin, a child psychiatrist at Yonsei University, said, "There have been confirmed cases where children who were neglected by their struggling parents during the Asian financial crisis demonstrated difficulties communicating or developed violent tendencies, and the situation is worse this time. Regional governments should study the problem and ensure that affected children get treatment."
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