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Ways to encourage literacy skills in your child

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Speech pathologists are trained to assess and treat a diverse caseload, and this can include working with children who have reading difficulties. There has been evidence of a “critical age” period, where it is likely that literacy acquisition is compromised if a child is not intelligible by 5½ years of age (Bowens, 2011).

Oral language is linked to literacy skills thus children with literacy difficulties may also experience delays in speech, vocabulary, narrative and comprehension skills, and grammar. Early intervention is recommended so a speech pathologist can sooner work with your child towards a better outcome.

What are some areas to work on to facilitate my child’s literacy development?

These exercises are highly recommended for home use!

  1. Oral language

Developing a child’s oral language or vocabulary can also assist their knowledge of letter and sound representations in words. This can be started from an early age, for example, naming or pointing to objects around the house or during outings. It may also be beneficial to build on words your child already knows in order to expand their vocabulary, for example, with synonyms, antonyms, and rhyming words.

  1. Print knowledge

Gaining knowledge about all different types of print can assist your child to recognise written language in a variety of contexts. This can involve pointing out the name of their favourite cereal, or reading package labels during shopping. Use the child’s context to talk about different types of print, for example, picture books, menus, and colouring books.

  1. Alphabet knowledge

This can include teaching your child letter and sound correspondence, as well as letter and word relationships, for example, “park” starts with /p/ – start by encouraging your child to recognise the first letters of words that are most common in their vocabulary. Also, similar to gaining print knowledge, point out letters commonly featured in the child’s environment, for example, road signs – “stop” starts with /s/ etc.

  1. Writing

This can be encouraged by name writing, beginning from the child’s own name – this opportunity can be used to correspond letters and sounds. Writing birthday cards, invitations, and shopping lists are also great ways to further develop literacy skills. Draw your child’s attention to how writing on a page works, for example, using a finger to point to the words across a page.

  1. Reading comprehension

Speech pathologists can work with your child to enhance reading comprehension. This can be supported at home and in clinic sessions by expanding vocabulary and word meaning within sentences. Another way to encourage reading comprehension is by reading new information and asking your child questions about the text. Some questions can include: “What do think will happen next?” or “How do you think [character name] feels about that?”


Bowen, C. (2011). Literacy and children with speech sound disorders. Retrieved August 31, from

Reading Rockets. (2003). Tips for parents of preschoolers. Retrieved August 31, from

Small Talk Speech and Language Therapy. (2015). Reading and spelling. Retrieved August 31, from

Therapy Matters. (2010). Reading and spelling. Retrieved August 31, from

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