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Communication is a complex skill that develops gradually over time from the moment a child is born. It is important that children develop a firm foundation of earlier skills such as listening and playing so that they can successfully develop later skills such as using tricky sounds and spelling.

Literacy

Children with communication difficulties can sometimes find reading and writing tricky as literacy and language learning skills are linked

  • Look at books and talk about the pictures and text rather than just asking questions
  • Retell stores and try together to guess what might happen next
  • Make up silly stories and try to think about who the story is about, what happens and how the story finishes
  • Speak to your child’s school teacher if you have concerns about their reading and writing.

Speech

Children need to be able to experiment with sounds and how theses fit together in words to make themselves understood. This is a gradual process and therefore a child’s speech attempts can be difficult to understand on occasions depending on their age

  • Let your child see your face, this helps them see how to copy some speech sounds
  • Keep background noise low as it is difficult to hear the difference between sounds if there is competing noise
  • If you don’t understand it is OK to say so, ask them to repeat the word and if you still don’t understand ask them to show you instead
  • Repeat back the word or sentence correctly even if the child’s attempt was not correct.
  • This helps them to see you understood them and also gives them a clue as to how to copy it correctly in the future
  • Make listening fun! This helps children learn to listen to differences in sounds and words

Expressive Language

Children need to be able to choose the right words and put them in the correct order to get their message across to people

  • Use all opportunities to model new words to your child. Talk about what you can see, how it feels and sounds as this helps your child learn new words
  • Leave pauses for your child to join in even if this is just a gesture or a noise
  • Recognise and respond to what your child is say rather than being too critical as to how they are saying it
  • Repeat back what your child says adding in an extra word to show them how they can be more complex e.g. ‘Mummy car!’, Mum – ‘Yes blue car!’
  • Repeat back what you child says with correct grammar to show them how they can copy this in the future
    Give you child choices wherever possible to support using language in a meaningful way e.g. ‘Do you want the blue pen or red pen?’

Understanding Language

Children need to understand the words and sentences they hear and remember these in different situations

  • Get their attention by calling their name before giving an instruction
  • Keep your language simple
  • Break longer instructions down into ‘chunks’ which are easier to remember
  • Give your child time to think about what you have asked to show they understand. If necessary try to count to 10 to yourself before you repeat the instruction
  • Showing as well as telling ALWAYS helps. Use objects, pictures and gesture to support spoken information

Play and Interaction

Children learn to interact with the world and others through play. It supports their problem solving and social skills

  • Let your child lead in play and copy what they are doing
  • Too many toys can be a distraction, tidy away unnecessary toys until they are needed
  • Comment about what you child is doing whilst they are playing rather than asking lots of questions
  • Try to provide a variety of toys for you child so that they can experience a full range of play experiences, try not to just encourage electronic toys or use of tablets. Building blocks, pretend food and everyday objects are great for play development!
  • Take turns with your child when playing so that they learn how to do this themselves

Listening and Attention

Good listening is vital for all other language skills to develop. It helps children to focus on what they are doing and hearing

  • Reduce background noise where possible, e.g. switch off the TV and spend time with you child when you can give them your full attention
  • Listening and paying attention to other people is a skill that will not develop well if your child spends all their time paying on a tablet or watching the TV alone
  • Encourage your child to look at you, call their name and wait for them to look before you tell them something
  • Show them how to listen. Look at your child and wait for them to finish before you talk
    Praise them with specific responses ‘You looked and me and listened to what I said, well done!’