Appropriate speech and language development are vital when looking at the transitions from pre-school activities to primary school. It ensures your child will be able to follow their teacher’s instructions, make new friends, understand rules and expectations, comprehend stories, tasks and activities and is vital for reading and writing skills (not to mention other core subjects like maths!).

Your littlie starting school can be a huge shift for the child, siblings, and parents alike. For some, it might be an exciting adventure and cannot come soon enough, but for others it may hold lots of anxiety and uncertainty. Either way, we want to help you make sure that your kiddo’s speech and language is school ready and make the transition as smooth as possible.

But how do you know if your child’s speech and language development are where they should be prior to beginning their next big learning adventure?

We have come up with 5 key signs that could indicate your child might need to see a speech pathologist before starting school. This list is not exhaustive and there are many other areas your child might need assistance with. Remember, if you have concerns, always see a speech pathologist. It’s better to be sure, than to “wait and see how they go”.

  1. Your child is still having difficulty saying some sounds when they talk or is unintelligible – In most cases, by the time your child starts school, they should be able to say all speech sounds accurately. Not only this, but they should be intelligible to a stranger when communicating. If your child has difficulty with their sounds or others have difficulty understanding your child when they speak, they may need some assistance in this area. Speech pathologists are trained to teach your child how to produce all speech sounds and make sure their conversations are clear and intelligible to others.
  2. Your child has difficulty making friends in social environments – There could be many reasons a child is having difficulty building friendships. Maybe they are shy, maybe they have never had to make a friend before, or maybe they struggle to identify how to make friends and follow the rules in social environments. Speech pathologists can help your child build and maintain friendships by understanding the intricate rules to social pragmatic language. By the time kids start school they should be able to take multiple turns in play and conversation as well as identify their own emotions and those of others around them. We can help your child start a conversation, play appropriately, understand what to say (and not what to say!) to others, and pick up on environmental cues around them to assist in understanding their environments.
  3. Their grammar when talking isn’t quite right – When a child starts school some aspects of their grammar are still developing, however some core areas that should be used correctly by this age include their use of past tense, present tense and future tense (e.g. went, going, will go) and pronouns (I ,me, he, she, they…). By the time they start school, your child should be able to use a range of conjunctions (because, and…) to join ideas together and be able to provide multiple sentences in response to questions and create basic stories.
  4. They have difficulty following multiple instructions – There are lots of new things to remember for your child when they start school. “Where do I put my bag?”, “What do I do once I finish my worksheet?”, “Where is the toilet?”, “What is my teachers name?”. It can sometimes get a little overwhelming, especially when they are given multiple things to remember at once. If your child has difficulty following 2 step instructions like “Go and put your rubbish in the bin before you put your jumper on and play outside” then seeing a speech pathologist can assist them with their ability to store the instruction in their brain, comprehend what they have been asked to do, and follow the instruction all within a timely manner.
  5. You or their kinder teacher have concerns about their speech or language, or readiness for school – Kids are expected to behave differently in different environments. Therefore, your child’s kinder teacher sees your child in a completely unique setting with different rules and expectations to where you may see them. At home, your child may be great a following instructions, playing with their toys and answering questions. However, the kinder environment is louder, has more people, extra activities and can be much more distracting for kids. In these settings their ability to do certain tasks can vary dramatically compared to what is seen at home. Therefore, if your child’s kinder teacher mentions some concerns they may have bout your child, make sure you follow up on this with the relevant professional to gain an experts opinion.

On the other hand, you are their parent and know your child the best, so if you feel your child may need assistance with their speech or language, despite their kinder teacher not having any concerns, speak to a speech pathologist who can accurately assess your child and give you strategies going forward.

We are here to help you and your child through this exciting time, so if you have any concerns or doubts about your child’s, speech, language or social skills book in with a speech pathologist as soon as you can. When it comes to your child’s development, it’s better to be sure than to “wait and see”.

Contact Fired Up People to speak to one of our Speech Team