Speech and language

Speech and language

If your child has, or you think they have, a speech, language and/or communication need.

If your child has, or you think they have, a speech, language and/or communication need, you can consult the Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN) Pathway for practical guidance, information and tools. The Pathway will help you to recognise and identify a speech, language or communication need, guide you in creating and maintaining a "communication-friendly" environment for your child and signposts to other sources of information.

Find out more information from the NHS Trust SLCN website

Speech and language tips for starting school

By the time they start school, children should be able to talk in sentences so that people can understand them. They should also enjoy stories, nursery rhymes and having conversations.

There are lots of things you can do to help your child to develop their talking, attention and listening skills. These include tips like:

  • reduce background noise made by people talking or having the TV on so that your child has the best chance of hearing what you are saying
  • encourage your child to look at you when you are talking to them by doing 'copycat' games like Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
  • use 'ready, steady…go' games to help children listen and wait for instructions
  • keep instructions short and simple and tell your child what you want them to do rather than what you don't want them to do, for example, "walk" rather than "don't run"

Who can help with speech and language?

You can read more information about speech and language development for children aged 2 to 4 years to give you an idea about what your child should be doing between the ages of 2 and 4 years.

If you're concerned about your child's speech and language you could:

Where can I go for stories and nursery rhymes?

There are lots of groups around Worcestershire you can go to with your child to read stories, sign songs and listen to nursery rhymes. Worcestershire's Library Services have lots of groups around the county as well as schemes to give free book packs to children aged 0 to 4 years. These include:

  • bounce and rhyme sessions in every library (21 libraries) to support speech and language development and reading for pleasure
  • story times and holiday activities focused around literacy
  • wide range of books for children to support starting school
  • wide range of books to support parenting e.g. potty training, sleep patterns etc
  • summer reading challenge during the summer holidays for 4 to 12 year olds and under fives

There are also some tips on the BookTrust website around reading with your child

Free books (Bookstart)

BookTrust website gives free books to every child in England and Wales at two key stages before school. The programme also gives free packs for children with additional needs, tips and guidance on reading together, resources and activities and much more.

As the world's first national book-gifting programme, Bookstart aims to encourage a love of books, stories and rhymes in children from as young an age as possible.

In Worcestershire, your pre-schooler will receive their special gift envelope when they are 4 years old, from their early years setting or library

Speech and language development for children aged 2 to 4 years

This is information about what language your child can understand and what they can say between the ages of two to four years. There are also some ideas and activities which will help you to encourage language development in your child.

All this information is very general; please remember that all children develop differently. If you have any concerns about your child’s speech and language development, please talk to your Health Visitor or Speech and Language Therapist.

Many children's centres across Worcestershire run 'talking walk-ins' which are drop-in sessions to discuss any concerns about your child's speech and language development with a professional. Find a drop in near you on the Children's centres page

Now that I am 2 years old

I will begin to understand:

  • two main ideas in a sentence e.g. “give the apple to teddy”
  • basic actions
  • simple stories with pictures
  • “who, what, where” questions used in everyday situations

I will begin to:

  • use two word phrases
  • use at least 50 words (objects, actions, people)
  • use my own name
  • ask “what’s this?”, “where’s?”

My speech may still be very unclear at the moment.

Now that I am 2 years 6 months

I will begin to understand:

  • simple ideas about time, place and colour
  • most everyday words and actions
  • what objects are used for e.g. “what flies in the sky?”

I will begin to:

  • use three to four word phrases
  • use words related to past events e.g. “me falled over”
  • use the following sounds: p m b n d t w

My speech may still be unclear and I may still miss off sounds at the ends of words.

Now that I am 3 years old

I will begin to understand:

  • three main ideas in a sentence e.g. “give daddy the little ball”
  • words like “in, on, under, big and little”
  • some “why” questions

I will begin to:

  • use four or more words in a sentence
  • use words like ‘and’ to link words together
  • use words like “I, he, she” (when I am nearly three and a half)
  • use plural words e.g. “cats”
  • talk about past and present activities
  • use the following sounds: k g h f s y

My speech is becoming clearer.

Now that I am 4 years old

I will begin to understand:

  • four main ideas in a sentence e.g. “the man is walking up the big hill”
  • “when” questions
  • story sequences

I will begin to:

  • use five to eight words in a sentence
  • ask lots of ‘wh’ questions
  • use language for a variety of reasons
  • retell favourite stories
  • use a lot more vocabulary
  • play make believe games
  • use words like “I will, I’m going to…”

I will now be able to talk clearly.

Ten tips for talking

  1. talk about what you can see
  2. follow your child’s lead and talk about what they are doing
  3. turn off the TV and set aside at least five minutes a day to play together
  4. use short, simple, clear language
  5. when your child talks, repeat back what they have said and add a little more language
  6. encourage your child to play turn-taking games
  7. give your child a choice eg “do you want a biscuit or an apple?”
  8. if your child has a dummy, take it out
  9. avoid using lots of open questions such as “what’s this?”, talk about what is happening
  10. praise your child’s attempts at talking and avoid correcting them


The activity sheets below provide lots more tips and games you can play with your child to help with their speaking, attention and listening skills. You can also find lots more advice on the Speech and Language Therapy website.


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