Speech & Literacy: What’s the Connection?

Did you know that many of the skills needed to become proficient readers and spellers begin with a child’s spoken language? Did you know that children who have speech sound disorders can often end up with literacy difficulties? If you think about it, it makes sense. Can’t say the sounds- can’t read the sounds. It has been proven that articulation difficulties can impact a child’s phonological awareness; this is the ability to recognize (E.g. the first sound in “cat” is a “c”) and manipulate sounds (E.g. the sounds “c-a-t” together make “cat”). Having good phonological awareness forms the basis for learning to read. Phonological awareness is kind of like learning to crawl before you walk. You need phonological awareness to be a confident reader down the track.

If a child has speech a sound error, for example they say “wip” instead of “lip”, it is likely they will have difficulty recognizing that the letters “l” and “w” represent different sounds. One of the main strategies taught when learning to read is to ‘sound it out’; this is bound to be difficult for a child who is verbally saying the sound incorrectly. This can also make reading fluently so much harder for children with speech errors as more effort is required to sound out each word.

Children are expected to be easily understood by others by approximately 5 ½ years old, this for most children being prior to commencing school or in kindergarten.

What Can I Do To Help?

There are lots of great books that can help with phonological awareness- any rhyming books such as “Cat in the Hat” & “Green Eggs & Ham”. Read the books to your child and let them hear the rhymes. See if they can make a rhyme- “what rhyme’s with cat, mat, hat…..” Start tuning your child into the sounds around them. Playing throwing and catching with a ball, you can say “b”, “ball” every time you throw it. Overemphasize the start of words and see if your child can guess the first sound they can hear. Always try and focus on sounds rather than letter names at this early stage of literacy development. Play “pop” the bubbles and say “p” each time you pop a bubble.

If you find other people have difficulty understanding what you child is saying by this age, it may be beneficial to consult with one of our Speech Pathologists at Early Start Speech Pathology. All the therapists at Early Start Speech Pathology have undertaken additional training in the area of literacy.  If you are unsure if your child may experience difficulties with literacy in the future, give us a call at Early Start Speech Pathology. We can give you peace of mind or equip you with some strategies to ensure your child has the best start.