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Speech, Language & Literacy: Getting Ready for School


A recent media release by Speech Pathology Australia highlighted the importance of language skills for school aged children. They noted that 25% of children starting primary school have difficulty understanding or using language effectively. This affects their ability to learn to read and write. As language permeates every aspect of the classroom, early intervention for speech and language difficulties is vital.

Language is a central part of learning. It aids us in understanding meaning and convey that understanding to others. Language is a vehicle by which we receive information, process it, understand it and share our knowledge of it. It is used to store and access information already stored in memory. As a child’s language skills develop, so too does their ability to learn. A child who has difficulties with any aspect of communication may have difficulty coping with the workload at school. Therefore, therapy for communication difficulties needs to begin before a the child starts school.

Things to look out for:

Below are some questions you could ask yourself about your child’s communication skills. Consult a Speech Pathologist if your child has difficulties in any of the following areas:

  1. Speech sounds: Is your child having difficulty saying certain speech sounds? Some children have trouble saying sounds (e.g. /s, k, th, f, r/) which can lead to difficulties reading and writing words effectively. Early intervention ensures the child starts school with a good knowledge of their speech sound system to learn about letters and their corresponding sounds.
  2. Understanding of language: Does your child have trouble following instructions? Do they find it difficult to recall the events in a story or summarising a story? Do they have trouble responding to questions? 
  3. Use of language: Is your child; mixing tenses, using incorrect pronouns (e.g. “he” for she/he), having difficulty putting sentences together in a meaningful way or having trouble recounting their news?
  4. Voice: Does your child have a persistently hoarse or nasal sounding voice?
  5. Fluency/ stuttering: Is your child stuttering?
  6. Pre-literacy skills: Is your child disinterested in books? Is he or she unable to identify the first sound in a word after you show him/her how to do this? Is he or she having trouble learning letters and numbers? If your child is reading, is he or she reading the text but is not able to answer questions about what they have just read?
  7. Hearing and Vision: Has your child’s hearing and vision been assessed recently? It is important to ensure your child has good vision and adequate hearing for speech and language development and learning. Disruptions in one sensory area can affect other areas in development.

If you would like further information about any of the above information, please contact Catherine on 0417 255 062.

Catherine Downs

Catherine Downs

Catherine Down is Platinum Pre School's preffered Speech Pathologist, she writes specifically tailored articles for the Platinum Newsletter and advises our staff on questions related to childhood speech development. Catherine is a Certified Practising Speech Pathologist (CPSP) with Speech Pathology Australia (SPA) and is an affiliate member of the American Speech - Language - Hearing Association (ASHA).

Catherine holds a BA in Psychology from the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) and a BAppSc of Speech Pathology from The University of Sydney. Catherine's qualifications and experience give her a unique set of skills for dealing with clients who are having communication, literacy and learning difficulties.

To find out more about Catherine's services or to book an appointment, please call Catherine on 0417 255 062 or visit her website -

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