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Speech, Language and Communication

Speech, Language and Communication 

Speech, Language and Communication skills are vital for children to reach their full potential in life. Families are most important in helping children to develop these skills which affect so many areas of life -


Making friends


Joining in at home and at school

Making choices and dealing with change



This pyramid shows the building blocks of speech and language development.



What do children need to develop communication?


Play and Interaction - young children learn early communication skills through play. They need lots of opportunities to play. Play, particularly symbolic play, is an important step in language development. For example, by understanding that the toy cup represents the real cup, a child starts to understand that words represent things, people, events etc.

For example: through play the child realises that the toy cup in the tea set is “symbolic” of the real cup in the kitchen even though they may look different.


Attention & Listening - children need to be able to physically hear as well as to listen and pay attention to language. Children need skills in attention and listening before language can develop successfully. Attention is a skill which develops from birth and is the ability to look and listen to what other people are saying or doing.

For example: a child is able to look at a cup at the same time as an adult and hears the word “cup”.


Understanding Language - children learn to understand words, sentences and conversations. They need to be able to understand words before they can use them. With a solid foundation of Listening and Attention and Play skills children will develop an understanding of language. Often young children can understand a lot more than they can say.

For example: the child understands that the sounds they hear from the adult e.g. “cup” relate to the object that they can see.

Expressive Language - children learning how to talk, using words and then sentences to share their message and join in conversations. They start with single words and move on to join two words together then three, four etc.
For example: the child has a go at saying “cup” when they see or want the cup.


Speech - children develop their use of different speech sounds, so they can be understood by others. Some children continue to develop speech sounds up until the age of 7 years.

For example: they may say “tup” for ‘cup’ to start with.

Useful links to support your child with speech, language and communication skills