Speech, language and communication skills and literacy
Is there a link between speech, language and communication skills and literacy?
Yes. Speech, language and communication skills and literacy (being able to read and write) are closely linked. Generally, having strong speech, language and communication skills supports with learning to read and write. There are exceptions to this though.
So, how are they linked?
When children are learning to read and write it helps if they have strong skills in these areas:
- Good attention and listening skills. Children learn words by paying attention to, and hearing, the words other people say.
- A good vocabulary. If children understand and can say lots of words, this helps them to read and write those words too.
- Knowing about different sounds in words. When children learn to read and write, it helps if they can think about the sounds that make up words. For example, a child will more easily be able to spell the word ‘cat’ if they know that the sounds that make up that word are ‘c’, ‘a’, ‘t’.
- Being able to listen to and understand stories. When children are learning to read and write, it helps if they have experienced lots of books and stories before. This helps them to know things like what order to turn the pages in and how to read the words from left to right.
My child has challenges talking and understanding words. Does this mean they won’t be able to read well?
Not necessarily. We know that speech, language and communication skills and literacy are closely linked, but children with speech and language challenges can still learn to read and write. Some children may learn to read or write in a different way, such as by memorising whole written words. Your child’s speech and language therapist can help guide you with this.
How can I help my child?
There are lots of things you can do to help your child learning to read. Try these tips:
- Share stories with your child. Make a book part of your bedtime routine – share a story, snuggle up and get chatting. See our information on sharing books with your child.
- Help your child to learn new words. Talk about what different words mean and tell your child the name for anything they don’t know. See our information on teaching children new words.
- Why not make your own books? Take pictures when you’re out or doing something at home and make it into a story together. You can talk about what you did and what happened. Children start to tell stories about what they’ve done and what they know about and you can help them with this.
- Tell stories together. Talk about your day and what you did, or use your imagination. We tell stories all the time, both real and made up, and these stories can help your child become a reader and a writer of stories.
- If you are concerned about your child’s talking or understanding, you can arrange to talk to a speech and language therapist through our advice line.