How to support your child with their Speech and Language

Speech and Language Information 

Children start to communicate from the moment they’re born. Developing language in the early years is particularly crucial because without good language skills, children will struggle to develop in the same way as other children, to access education and to become independent.

At Penygelli Primary School, we identify children as early as possible who may need some intervention to help support the development of their speech and language communication skills.

Below is some more information about the importance of developing these skills.

What is speech and language therapy?

Speech and language therapy aims to help all children to communicate as well as possible, and develop their speech and language skills. A speech and language therapist will work with teaching assistants and other professionals to help your child.

A speech and language therapist can:

 · assess how well your child’s speech, language and communication skills are developing

· identify if your child is experiencing any difficulties and the reasons why

· develop a plan to address those difficulties and work with you to carry out the plan

· give advice on your child’s progress and the next steps

· work with teaching staff to support language-based aspects of the curriculum. Speech and language therapists can help with different aspects of communication.

Working with your child’s speech and language therapist

· Let the speech and language therapist know about your child’s likes and dislikes, hobbies and interests – they may be able to include them into therapy.

· Ask your therapist questions about your child’s communication and the targets for therapy.

 · Get involved in your child’s therapy sessions, and ask the therapist for games and activities you can use in everyday life.

How Parents can support their child’s speech at home.

Remember, you’re the most important person when it comes to developing your child’s speech and language skills and communication. Parents play an essential role in their children’s progress and language development. Parents have more opportunities throughout the day to experience, interact, and communicate during a meaningful, everyday situation. It is these daily situations where most learning takes place. 

Below are lots of ways that you can support your child with their speech development: As your child begins to use speech, a dummy should be limited and the use of gradually stopped. A dummy prevents a child from copying words & sounds back correctly. Many speech sounds are made at the front of the mouth (p, b, t , d, s) Regular dummy/ bottle users will struggle to develop these sounds and may then need speech therapy. The more a child talks with a dummy the higher the risk of needing long term speech therapy.

How to support children aged 2-3 Years

  • Adding words to children's sentences can show them how words fit together. For example, if a child says, 'dolly hair' you can say 'brush dolly's hair’
  • Often children enjoy helping. Sharing daily jobs gives a chance to talk about objects and actions
  • Use puppets and pictures to help children listen to stories. Don't be afraid to tell a story more than once. Repetition helps children to understand and remember words
  • Give children the correct example for sounds and words. This helps if they are having problems saying a certain word or sound. If you correct them or make them say it again, you can make them feel anxious. Simply repeat what they have said using the right words and sounds. With time they will be able to do it themselves.

For some children, developing communication skills can be very difficult. It is important that parents seek advice from a speech and language therapist if:


  • A child points or shows what they want rather than says it.
  • They only say single words instead of joining words together into short sentences.
  • They are slow to respond to your instructions.
  • They rely on being shown what to do rather than being told.
  • You cannot understand most of what they say.

How to support children aged 3-4 Years

  • Have a special time to talk about the day. Talking about what has happened that day will help their memory skills. It will also help them to talk about things they cannot see and things that happened in the past which is an important skill for learning in school
  • Wherever possible, use pictures, objects, puppets, acting, gestures and facial expressions. This will keep a child’s interest
  • Talk about or play games involving opposites like 'on and off' or 'big and little'
  • Join a child in pretend play. Let them take the lead. This will help their language and creativity. Talk about what they are saying and doing rather than asking lots of questions. Your commentary helps their language skills and shows you are listening and interested
  • Reversing roles can be great fun for a child. Let them be the 'mummy' or the 'teacher'. This helps them to talk about new situations
  • Play with and talk about sequences of coloured bricks or shapes, numbers and days of the week.

By 3 and a half years old a child should be understood by people outside the family. If not, parents should seek advice from a speech and language therapist.

  • They are struggling to turn ideas into sentences
  • The language they use is jumbled and difficult to understand
  • They are unresponsive or slow to follow instructions.

How to support children aged 4-5 Years

  • Building relationships with your child's pre-school or school is very important. Find out what topics or songs they are learning. This can help you support new words and ideas your child is learning
  • Playing board games that involve taking turns helps them to listen and concentrate for longer
  • Encourage children to talk without being questioned. This can help them to talk more about their experiences. Open questions like 'what are you going to play with today?' encourage children to say more than 'yes' and 'no'. If they find it difficult to answer such open questions, give them choices, such as 'cars or animals?'
  • Although children may know lots of different words it is important to introduce new words and phrases. This helps them to continue learning
  • Having fun with words and rhymes can help children learn skills they need for reading and writing
  • Children may need time to think before responding to questions and instructions. Give them time without answering for them or finishing their sentences.

For some children, developing communication can be a very difficult process and they may need extra help. By 5 years you may see the following:

  • Difficulty with abstract ideas such as size or time.
  • Difficulty with complex sentences.
  • Not having the right words to be able to say what they want.
  • Difficulty organising ideas in order.
  • Missing out some words. For example, saying 'playing ball' instead of 'the dog is playing with the ball’.
  • Talking about lots of different topics in the same group of sentences.
  • Not using the right sounds so that their speech is difficult to understand.

How to support children aged 5-7 Years old

  • Help them to learn new words, such as words to do with positions, times and size.
  • Make time to talk about your day
  • Give a child time to talk to you
  • Ask open questions like ‘tell me something you liked about today’.

A child at this age should have well-developed speech, language and communication skills.  If they are finding language difficult, you might notice that they:

  • Find it hard to learn and understand the meanings of words
  • Find it hard to understand language about things in the past or future
  • Struggle to understand phrases that can mean more than one thing, such as “pull your socks up”
  • Respond to just part of an instruction, usually the beginning or end
  • Use short sentences, often with words missing or in the wrong order
  • Find it hard to make up stories. This shows in written work as well as talking
  • Are not learning at school, but nobody can explain why
  • Are struggling to make and keep friends.

How to support children aged 7-11 Years old

  • Good communication is two-way and requires good listening skills. To help a child, you will need to demonstrate good listening skills yourself. Make sure that you have time for this in your day. You may need to explain words that a child still does not know.
  • A child's vocabulary will be growing. Help them to understand new words they learn by talking about their meaning. Make sure they are not afraid to ask if they don't understand a word. If you don't know the exact meaning of a word - look it up in a child-friendly dictionary such as Collins Co-Build.
  • Just by having good conversations with children, you are supporting their language. So, talk to them. Ask them how their day at school was and how their friends are. Hopefully they don't need too much encouragement to talk. Try to encourage conversations rather than just you doing the talking.

A child at this age should have well-developed speech, language and communication skills.  If they are finding language difficult, you might notice that they:

  • They may struggle to join in group conversations. This is because there is too much language
  • They may find it hard to make up stories. This will show in their written work as well as talking
  • Their stories may be muddled, making them difficult to follow
  • They may find it hard to learn and understand the meanings of words
  • They may struggle to understand language about things in the past or future
  • They may find it hard to make predictions
  • They may find it difficult to understand language where the meaning isn’t clearly stated e.g. when the conversation involves new concepts or involves people or objects not present and visible to the child
  • They may be struggling to learn at school. They could find it hard to understand what it is they are supposed to be doing, even though they have been told.