Language development starts with sounds and gestures which then moves on to words and sentences within the first few years.

Children need to understand the words they hear around them to follow instructions, learn new words, answer questions or follow a story. We call this receptive language.

Children develop words and sentences to communicate their wants and needs. They build their vocabulary and learn how to put the words in the right order to make longer sentences. They must also learn the rules of grammar. We call this expressive language.

Some children learn to speak without much effort at all, whilst others need a little longer and appear to be slow to start speaking compared to others around them. Some of these children will catch up eventually, others will have more difficulty. Effective early intervention is helpful in supporting many children, but others need more long-term specialist support.

Parents, carers and other people in the lives of young children can play a very significant role in developing their language and communication and make a huge impact. Speech and Language Therapists provide support and advice so that YOU feel confident in helping your child.

What you can do to help your child

Sharing books with your child is great way to develop their language. Looking at books together can improve your child’s attention and listening skills, help them to learn new words, link words together and understand the words and concepts in the story. It also encourages your child’s interest in books which is their first introduction to reading. Most importantly, it is a fun, simple activity where you interact 1:1 with them. Sharing a book does not necessarily mean reading the story in the book. All adults can enjoy sharing a book with their child and use it to support a child’s talking, regardless of their own reading skills.

Find our more in this leaflet: Sharing books to develop communication.pdf [pdf] 569KB



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