Speech, Language and Communication (SLC) Guidance
If you are slightly worried about your child’s communication skills and whether or not they are about right for their age, there are a number of different guides you can use to check their progress.
You can also review our guidance on developmental stages here.
You can also access the National Guide by Action for Children and the Department for Education, “What to Expect, When”, to give you a guide to your child’s development.
How to support your child
There are lots of different things parents and families can do to support their child’s speech and language development.
- Talk about everyday routines and simple things with your child, right from the moment they are born. For example, during nappy changes, tell your baby what you’re doing and have a ‘conversation’.
- Respond to the sounds and gestures your baby makes, as they are still communicating, even if they can’t use words yet!
- Have fun with different sounds, words and facial expressions and never be afraid of looking or sounding silly, your baby certainly won’t mind!
- Use lots of repetition! If you say things more than once, it helps children to understand what you mean and they may copy you and learn new words. For example, “up we go” every time you put them in their high chair.
- Repeat your child’s early words and phrases back to them. This shows them that you are listening and will encourage them to keep talking.
- Try to make some time to play with your child every day and ensure you give them your full attention, so put your phone away and turn the TV off! Let them lead the play and just join in by copying what they are doing and using simple language to comment on the play, such as “you’re feeding teddy”. Young children don’t need expensive toys, so keep it simple and use everyday items around the home, including plastic bowls, wooden spoons or a towel to play peekaboo.
- Give your child the motivation to communicate. Even though you know them well and understand what they want or need, give them the chance to ask for things before you step in. For example, if they’re pointing at the fridge, because they want a drink, ask “what do you want?” before you fetch it. You can also model your answer around “oh, you want a drink” and emphasise the name of the thing that they want!
What to do if worried if you are worried about your child’s speech and communication
If you are worried that your child isn’t understanding you or isn’t using a lot of spoken language, there are different professionals and organisations you can talk to for information and advice, which you may find useful.
- Talk to your health visitor.
- Visit your local Family Centre and talk to an outreach worker or assistant manager about your concerns.
- If your child attends a nursery or childminder- have a chat with your child’s keyworker. They are experienced professionals and will be able to support you in getting the best for your child.