Early language and communication

Communication starts in the very early days of your child’s life. From looking at others, to communicating their needs through vocalisations such as crying and babbling to later using words and having conversations.

The pre-school years are an important stage in a child’s language development. It ensures the foundations are in place for later learning, literacy and forming relationships. Children will learn to communicate, understand and use language at different rates and stages. There are many different areas and skills that need to develop for a child’s language to grow.

The key roots / foundations include their attention and listening, their desire to communicate and their play (as shown below) as “the roots of the tree”. As this becomes established and develops so does understanding of language “trunk of the tree”. Once a child understands words they are likely to start using words / sentences “branches of the tree”. The finer details  (e.g. speech sounds) “leaves of the tree” develop as their language develops . Below are strategies that support the different areas of language  development.

Parents play a key role in supporting their child’s language and communication skills in everyday life. Children learn about the world through their experiences and interests particularly within their play. The evidence highlights the importance of joining our children in their play and following their interests to provide them with opportunities to develop their ability to understand and use words and later sentences.

Language workshop - Let's get talking workshop: Helping your child’s language development

If your child has been seen by a member of the team you would have been advised to access our online training resource, we ask that parents /carers access this prior to therapy commencing.

Communication workshop - Let's get communicating workshop: Helping your child’s communication to develop

If your child has been seen by a member of the team you would have been advised to access our online training resource, we ask that parents /carers access this prior to therapy commencing.

Early Interaction workshop: Helping your child's interaction skills

If your child has been seen by a member of the team you would have been advised to access our online training resource, we ask that parents/carers access this prior to therapy commencing.

Strategies and advice

There are many ways to support language development. Watch our key top tips video for further information.

Using visual support can help children’s understanding and communication as their language is developing. Watch our video on using visual support.

If following assessment it has been decided that your child would benefit from therapy to support their language and communication, you may be wondering what to expect. The following video explains what happens in your first therapy session (specifically early years language and communication).

Useful websites

  • National Literacy Trust
    Has resources and information for parents, early years settings and schools to promote language and literacy development.
  • ICAN
    For information relating to speech, language and communication needs.
  • AFASIC
    This website supports parents and represents children and young people with speech, language and communication needs.
  • Talking Point
    Talking Point gives parents/carers and practitioners the information they need to help children develop their speech, language and communication skills.
  • The Communication Trust
    A group of over 50 not for profit organisations working together  to support people who work with children and young people with language and communication needs.
  • NAPLIC
    An organisation for teachers, SLT’s and other professionals aimed at promoting awareness and understanding of children and young people with language and communication needs.
  • Hungry Little Minds
    A website from The Department for Education. It is  a new campaign that  gives ideas / videos of activities to boost children’s communication, language and literacy development from ages 0-5.

Training

The Children’s Therapies Team support language and communication development at a range of levels. This includes training the wider workforce to working alongside parents and settings as detailed below.

  1. Specialist level
    SLT parent workshops
    SLT Training /support for ICAN Language Learners
  2. Targeted level
    C&L Targeted Level Training (New)
    Early Talk Boost
    Language for Learning in the Foundation Stage
  3. Universal level
    Prime Importance of Communication and Language
    Language for Learning in the Foundation Stage

Professionals can book can book on Prime Importance of Language via CPD online  www.theeducationpeople.org and for Language for Learning via their local specialist teaching and learning service.

Parent workshops to support language and communication development are offered by the SLT department for families known to the service.

Referral

Children develop language and communication at different rates. The charts below as well as the referral page provide information regarding typical / expected development and when to consider referral.