Speech Pathology and Literacy


Chelsea Dries

Blog category: 


Did you know that a speech pathologist can help with your child’s reading, spelling and writing skills?

Literacy skills are an essential component of your child’s development, but before children learn to read and write, they need to develop their foundational skills in being able to communicate, listen, interpret and understand.

What is the link between speech,language and literacy?

To help you understand the relationship between speech, language and literacy, think of a thick interwoven rope. Much like the strands of rope linked together to form a strong bond, children must master a range of skills before they can become ‘strong’ in reading and spelling.

As shown below in Dr Scarborough’s The Reading Rope (2001), skills are presented as strands of rope that eventually intertwine. If a strand is broken (or a skill is not acquired), the rope will be weak.

How can we help in developing your child’s literacy skills?

As you can see, there is a lot more than just learning the alphabet when it comes to learning to read and spell. It is very common for children with speech and/or language difficulties to experience challenges when it comes to their literacy development as all components are closely linked.  

Speech pathologists at Leaps & Bounds have been formally trained to help develop all areas of your child’s speech, language and literacy skills to ensure there are no ‘weak strands’ in the Reading Rope, leading to greater reading and spelling abilities.

What training have clinicians at Leaps & Bounds received?

All speech pathologists at Leaps & Bounds have received formal training in the evidence-based Sounds-Write First Rate Phonics Program.

This structured synthetic phonics program has been developed by teachers based on the science of reading. In structured synthetic phonics children start b ylearning about the sounds within spoken words, and progress through a sequenc eto more complex elements of spelling.

Sounds-Write has been found to be effective for all learners, including those with dyslexia ,due to its multisensory, code-oriented and comprehensive approach.

What does a literacy assessment at Leaps & Bounds look like?

Before we can assist your child with their reading and spelling skills, we must first understand their current abilities across all areas of their speech and language skills. As it has been mentioned, a child’s literacy skills are based on more than just their knowledge of letters and therefore it is essential that we get the ‘complete picture’.

Our assessments typically include:

  • Discussions with parents and teachers to understand current strengths and challenges
  • A comprehensive and standardised language assessment exploring your child’s understanding and use of language (receptive language skills and expressive language skills).
  • A standardised spelling and reading assessment exploring their phonological awareness skills, decoding skills, spelling skills, and current reading abilities.
  • A speech sound assessment to help determine any underlying articulation or phonological impairments.

Once the assessment is complete, we will collaborate with parents and teachers in determining suitable, individualised goals that incorporate your child's strengths and interests.

What do children need to know before they learn to read and write?

There are 3 key areas that are essential for children to have success in learning to read and write:

  1. Phonological awareness
  2. Understanding of language functions
  3. Fine motor skills

Phonological awareness is a specific language skill which allows a child to recognise and use sounds. Phonological awareness in Kindergarten is a strong predictor of later reading success.

Phonological awareness skills include:

  • identifying sounds - “what sound does ‘bat’ start with?”
  • identifying syllables - “let’s clap your name: O - LI - VER”
  • blending sounds together - “guess what word I’m saying: C-A-T”
  • rhyming - “what word sounds the same as ‘bus’?”
  • sound-letter correspondence - “which letter is ‘sssss’?”

Understanding language functions involves understanding how and why language is used.

For literacy success, children first need to understand that:

  • sounds and letters are connected
  • sounds and words are connected
  • words have meanings
  • you need to say the ‘right’ word to make sense
  • you need to use words the ‘right’ way to make sense

Fine motor skills include the ability to hold and control objects precisely.

For example:

  • holding a pencil
  • isolating finger movements
  • drawing specific shapes

5 Early Literacy Activities We Love:

1. 'Slug in a Jug' game

An engaging game targeting rhyme awareness and rhyme matching.

2. Syllable counting

Choose a range of words and clap/stomp/tap/jump out the ‘beats’ you can hear - e.g. “kan- ga- roo” (3 beats).

3. 'I Spy' first sounds

A fun way to teach sound awareness and help children recognise the first sounds in a word - e.g. “I spy something starting with ‘sssss’".

4. Mr. Squiggle

Before kids can write letters, they need to be able to draw shapes. Practice drawing circles, squares, lines, and triangles and turn them into fun pictures.

5.      Alphabet bingo

A fun and easy way to target letter-sound association. Draw up or print some bingo cards with different letters. Call out the sounds and match them to the letters. First person to have their whole card full calls out ‘BINGO’!

I think my child needs help with their literacy - what should I do?

If you have questions about your child's literacy skills or would like to have their skills assessed, get in touch! One of our friendly team will be happy to chat to you, answer your questions, and give you advice for your next steps.

Click Here

Don't miss these stories:

Drop us a Line

To send us an email, please fill out the form below and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Thanks for contacting Leaps & Bounds Speech Pathology.

Your submission has been received and a member of our team will get back to you shortly.

Hmm! Something went wrong?!

Please try sending the form again.