Ten games to support communication in primary school aged children
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Ten games to support communication in primary school aged children

When parents visit me with their child, their stress is palpable. Often parents don’t relish or even expect to be asked to practise strategies at home with their child between sessions. Let alone to practise whilst on holiday. I understand that you don’t necessarily want anything extra added to your daily ‘to do’ lists. This is why we try our best to incorporate all speech and language therapy practice into children’s daily activities.

For example:

  1. during bath time;
  2. mealtimes;
  3. getting ready for bedtime;
  4. story time
  5. yes, playtime!

These are activities that all parents will engage with anyway, so it seems to make sense to incorporate both. This is to avoid adding extra pressure on parents’ already stressful and time-poor daily lives. I am hoping my blog will come in handy, especially for the summer holidays.

On holiday you are unlikely to have your usual games and toys with you – so here is a nice little list of things you can use instead of traditional games and toys:

If you can think of any other alternatives on holiday and would like to tell me about them, I would love to see your comments below. We can never have too many holiday games!!

If you are at home over the summer and you do have some games in the cupboard you might want to dust these ones down or buy one or two new ones (if you want to).

Most games have multiple uses, and it’s always best to adapt a game to match your child’s interests and what motivates them.

So let’s start…

  1. Pop up pirate: pop a sword into the barrel and watch the pirate pop up randomly. Practise social skills, speech sounds, expressive language (e.g., put a sword on a picture, say the word/sentence then pick up the sword and push it into the barrel).
  2. Word games such as ‘ISpy’, ‘I went to the shop and I bought…’, ‘describe a person and guess who they are’: perfect for when you’re on the move, whether travelling or walking. You can play this anywhere and still support speech, language and communication. You could play ISpy using your child’s special sound, or ‘I went to the shop and bought all things beginning with [insert special sound here]’.
  3. Shopping list: Orchard game is a game to practise categorising. We explain the analogy of the brain being like a filing cabinet. If information is all in the correct place, it’s easier to find, retrieve and use. You can also practise specific speech sounds in this activity. You could also put the words in a sentence to add more of an expressive language element.
  4. Wiggly worms: this Orchard game is all about phonological (awareness of sounds) awareness. Matching a letter with the word. You can also practise the sounds in the words (e.g, g-o-l-d = gold; m-a-ke = make). Talk about the elements, e.g., ‘g-o-l-d’ has 4 sounds, 1 syllable; ‘m-a-ke has 3 sounds, one syllable. You can talk about what words rhyme with the different words and what makes a rhyming word (i.e., the middle and end sounds remain the same).
  5. Sound detectives: this Orchard game allows children to identify sounds. It also has an app (if your child prefers a tech-way of learning). Children identify the sound then they can add the picture card to their path and become closer to being a successful detective. This game can also support memory skills.
  6. Conversation cubes: throw the dice and start building a story. You can also create and use ‘colourful semantics’ sentence strips to support expressive (spoken) language as support to build the narrative.
  7. Think words: ‘name it, press it, pass it’. A great game to expand word knowledge. You can talk about the words at the end of each round exploring semantic (meanings) and phonemic (sounds) links. Your child can also develop social skills (such as attention, listening and turn-taking).
  8. Poo bingo: this is perfectly disgusting but equally fun for kids of about 3.5 years plus – if your child’s target is to practise /p/ sound this is the one for you. You can also learn all about the different animal’s poo, which I am sure you have always wanted to do!! The more we know about a word, the easier it is to store, retrieve and use. Yes, even talking about poo can help!! Also, it’s great for our visual learners.
  9. Simon says: a game that can be played indoors or outdoors. Parents can take turns being “Simon” and give various commands that your child must follow. This means that your child can practise their receptive (understanding of) language as well as their expressive language, speech sounds and social skills (such as turn-taking and initiating).
  10. Ker-plunk: this is perfect for practising your child’s special sound. Repetition is very important, but also can be monotonous, so finding a game that they enjoy is vital. Take turns to pull out a stick. Next, your child can either say their special sound or word (depending on what stage they are at) or hear a good model from other players.

Do you still have questions? Contact Sonja for support.


Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.

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Supporting children and families living with verbal dyspraxia
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Supporting children and families living with verbal dyspraxia

“It’s brill-i-ant, it’s brill-ant, it’s brillnt”

Have you ever wondered why children may pronounce a word correctly one minute and in the next breath they struggle to say the same word? It’s equally as frustrating for you as it is for your child. The biggest question of all is WHY? Why does this happen and what causes it? Whilst there are many explanations. When it persists, it might be a condition called verbal dyspraxia.

What is verbal dyspraxia

Verbal dyspraxia is a neurological motor speech disorder that affects the coordination and planning of muscle movements that are needed for speech production. A child may have difficulty making the precise movements needed for speech, which may result in inconsistent and unintelligible speech. Children may also have trouble sequencing sounds and syllables, producing speech sounds accurately, and coordinating the movements of their articulators (e.g., lips, tongue, teeth, jaw). This can lead to a range of speech errors (including sound distortions, substitutions, omissions, and difficulty with rhythm and prosody).

We know that these speech errors, and not being able to get a message across, can be frustrating for children with speech difficulties. Can you imagine talking and limited people understanding you? It’s so tough on children and the people trying to communicate with them.

Creating a person-centred therapy plan is vital. This allows your child to stay motivated, as intervention is likely to be long term. This planning may include favourite words to use during their hobby or favourite activity, or person-centred goals such as ‘giving Alexa an instruction’.

Children with verbal dyspraxia can have several different ways of producing words, which often makes it trickier for them as there’s no consistent pattern to work with. So, we’ve put together some top tips to support their communication and make their (and your) lives a little easier in the process.

Ten ways to make communication easier for your child with verbal dyspraxia

  • Have a list of frequently used words and practise this set. Little and often is best!
  • Use cued articulation to support speech production (ask your Speech and Language Therapist for the gestures)
  • Give time and use active listening. This means showing interest and trying not to think about what is on your never ending ‘to do’ list
  • Reduce frustration in any way that you can. This might mean allowing your child to demonstrate using gestures rather than speech. You might also give top tips for other adults or children who communicate with your child when out and about
  • Talk about the structure of words with your child (i.e., there are two beats/syllables in this word)
  • Show the written form of the word to go alongside their production
  • Split down tasks, so that your child only has to respond to one question at a time, reducing their motor capacity
  • Recognise when your child is working well and when they may need support of an Alternative and Augmentative Communication device
  • Allow all environments to have the same training and equipment (i.e., at school, home, out and about)
  • Have regular periods in the day where your child can practise their specific words in different environments. This can be effective for children with verbal dyspraxia

Do you still have questions? Contact Sonja for support.


Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.

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Speech sounds: Expectations vs reality
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Speech sounds: Expectations vs reality

Sometimes our kids find it hard to listen to sounds in words and hearing the difference between sounds. This is an important skill which we call “sound awareness”. A lack of it can really impact on clear speech sounds production.

Your child might be confusing similar sounding words. Or they might not notice that a TAT is not a CAT for a DOD is not a DOG. Often children with speech sound disorders or difficulties don’t tune into individual sounds or even syllables. Grow your knowledge to support your child.

Read our latest blog on hearing the difference between sounds to develop speech sound production.

Practice makes perfect

There is a lot more to speech sound production than first meets the eye. Did you know that producing the correct speech sound at sentence level is the last piece to the communication puzzle? There’s a lot of practice before your child develops this last stage of speaking clearly. Your Speech and Language Therapist will start by determining if your child can hear the difference between the sound they are producing and the correct sound. So if your child says LIT instead of LICK we might contrast those two words by perhaps using a candle and a lollypop. Each time he/she says LICK they get to have a lick (or 3) on the lolly. But if they say LIT then we light up and blow out a candle. This way your child can see that there is a difference between those words and that the sounds we make actually matter. Fancy that!!

We call this auditory awareness, which is essentially hearing the sounds in words. Don’t be surprised if you hear your child’s therapist model the sound a lot. This is to develop their awareness. The more your child hears a sound, the easier they will find production. Furthermore, your Speech and Language Therapist will work on phonemic awareness (sound structures) such as the difference between a sound (e.g. sh, is one sound) vs a syllable (e.g., shell has one syllable) vs total number of sounds in a word (shell has three sounds sh-e-ll ), like you can see in my little video clip.

Once a child is able to produce a sound on its own and they can hear and identify how a short word is said correctly we can go and repeat lots of similar words with the sound at the beginning or end until it becomes automatic and new neuro pathways are laid in the child’s brain. From there we branch out into short phrases and then eventually sentences.

Six tips to practise auditory discrimination for speech sound production

  1. Sit opposite your child so they can see your mouth or or sit next to the child and place a mirror in front of you so they can see and hear your production.
  2. Make it fun! Once they’ve identified the sounds in the word, play part of a game (e.g., pop up pirate, Jenga, something which allows plenty of turns).
  3. Use car journeys or walking to school to practise (e.g., oh I see a sheep, sh-ee-p, sh-ee-p has three sounds. Can you spot something beginning with /sh/?)
  4. Remember that spellings can differ (e.g., ‘chef’ and ‘shed’ both have the same initial sound).
  5. Talk about what you’re doing with your mouth (e.g., my lips are rounded for /sh/). Your Speech and Language Therapist will be able to support you with this.
  6. Make silly sentences using your child’s special sound (e.g., Sheep show shepherds shearing).

At this stage you are not expecting your child to produce the sound. This is why it’s important that they continually hear an excellent model. If your child attempts speech sound production at any stage, this is to be encouraged as it’s a great opportunity to model the correct version.

Contact me to develop your child’s speech sounds.


Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.

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Learn the benefits of Cycles Phonology Approach in Speech Therapy

Learn the benefits of Cycles Phonology Approach in Speech Therapy

A grey, green and orange circle overlaid with Cycles Phonological Approach
Cycles Phonogogical approach

When your child attends Speech and Language Therapy, it can look like your child’s therapist is playing. Therapy needs to be fun, which means carrying out therapy through the medium of play. But remember every approach used has evidence behind it. We need to know that therapy will be successful, so an evidence-based approach is essential.

One of the approaches used for Speech Therapy (i.e., working on speech sound production) is the Cycles Phonology Approach. This approach focuses on the patterns and processes rather than each individual sound. For example, it may be working on final consonant deletion, so the omission of the final sound in words. As Speech and Language Therapists we understand that children can get frustrated and fatigued working on the same sound every day. This approach attempts to solve that. Hodson suggests, the approach is also useful for children with more speech sound errors, as therapists see progress in areas not targeted.

How does the Cycles Phonology Approach work?

Your Speech and Language Therapist will assess your child’s speech development and will then analyse the results. They will also look for which sounds they can produce with support (this is called stimulability). They will analyse patterns in the results and will formulate a plan.

The Cycles Phonology Approach intervention allows your child to work in blocks. This might mean they work for half a week for 30 minutes on (e.g., clusters). Then the next half they’ll work for 30 minutes on a different process (e.g., omission of sounds at the end of words).

Research has found that the following error patterns respond well to this approach:

  • Syllables (identifying the different parts in a word e.g., “ae-ro-plane”)
  • Final Consonant deletion (omission of the final sound e.g., “ca” instead of “cat”)
  • Initial consonant deletion (omission of the first sound e.g., “at” instead of “cat”)
  • Fronting (instead of making a sound at the back of the mouth, it’s made at the front e.g., “tatinstead of “cat)
  • Backing (instead of making a sound at the front of the mouth, it’s made at the back e.g., “guninstead of “bun)
  • S blends (e.g., “sl, sm, sn, sk, sw”)
  • Gliding of liquids (e.g., “lellow instead of yellow”, “wabbit instead of rabbit)

What does a Speech and Language Therapy session look like when using the Phonology Cycles Approach?

The format of the session remains the same for whichever speech sound pattern your child is working on. Your child’s Speech and Language Therapist will review the previous session. Then they will use an activity to work on your child hearing the sound several times (this is called ‘auditory bombardment’). Then your child will practise saying the sound. Next, the Speech and Language Therapist will check if your child can say any of the sounds which they haven’t been able to produce before, with support. This is called a stimulability check. After this, your child will take part in an activity which builds their awareness of sounds in words (such as a rhyming or syllable activity). The session will finish with another auditory bombardment task (i.e., hearing their tricky sound repeatedly).

I will give you advice for practising at home, as it’s vital that your child learns in the correct way. We aim for 100 turns in therapy sessions, so it’s vital your child is motivated.

Contact me to improve your child’s speech sounds and improve their confidence when talking.


Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.

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Five ways to increase confidence and reduce frustration in children with speech and language and communication difficulties
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Five ways to increase confidence and reduce frustration in children with speech and language and communication difficulties

An orange speech bubble with a testimonial

Your child’s speech, language and communication difficulties may impact their self-esteem. And they may show signs of increased frustration. You want them to be full of confidence, increasing their participation in school and fully engaging with their peers.

1. Practise active listening

Speech difficulties can mean that it’s more challenging to understand what your child says. It’s important to show that you’re paying attention, giving them time to express themselves. Focus on what your child says rather than how they are speaking. Remember to maintain eye contact, and actively listen. Active listening and giving time can be trickier than it sounds. I can provide strategies to support your active listening skills.

2. Give other means and forms of communication

Allowing children to express themselves in a variety of ways (e.g., gesture, signs, written, use descriptions to describe a word (e.g., sand – you find it out the beach, it can have pebbles on it, it’s not the sea), use of symbols or high-tech augmentative communication methods such as a computer). Using different ways is vital in reducing frustration and communicating their message. If you’re unsure of what other forms of communication you can use, please contact me for some top tips.

3. Praise efforts

Providing specific praise allows your child to understand what they’ve achieved. E.g., you could praise the way your child listens, or how they take turns, or their resilience (e.g., “I like the way you listened” or “good listening”). Think of different ways you could praise you child during different activities, so you are prepared with phrases that you can use.

4. Have clear start and end points in activities

Some children with speech, language and communication needs have difficulties with transitioning from one activity to another. They also have difficulties with changes in routine. This can add to their frustration and changes in behaviour. So, how do you show a clear start and end to an activity? You can have a visual timetable, or you could have ‘start’ and ‘finish’ boxes where you place all the materials in the box labelled ‘start’. And once the activity has finished, you put the items in the box labelled ’finished’. If you need support with transitions, please contact me.

5. Use visuals

Visuals can support your child to understand routine and spoken language. Visuals can range from symbols to online images, to photographs, or a combination. Explore which type of visuals work well for your children. Using visuals can be powerful if used correctly. Make the most of the opportunities that visuals can provide for your family.

Increase confidence and reduce frustration in children with speech and language and communication difficulties today. Please feel free to contact me if you need any support or tips on maximising these opportunities.


Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.

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Discover speech and language regression in autistic children and how you can support your child
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Discover speech and language regression in autistic children and how you can support your child

Discover speech and language regression in autistic children and how you can support your child

There’s often this idea that autistic children have extensive vocabulary and knowledge, but this is not always the case. In fact, 30% of autistic children have language regression.

Goldberg (2003) suggested that speech and language regression refers to the decline in a young child’s speech and communication abilities. We know that regression in speech, language and communication skills often occur before the age of two years. 25% of autistic children develop language at word level between 12 and 18 months of age before losing this language they have learned. As you’re probably aware this regression in communication is a diagnostic indicator of Autism.

We understand that you want your child to progress, and you struggle to watch as their frustration grows as you feel helpless. I want to provide you with tips so that you can feel empowered to support your autistic child and reduce the impact their communication skills have on the family.

  1. Reduce frustration by providing visuals to support their communication
  2. Model gestalts. We know that autistic children are often gestalt language processors. Learn more about gestalt language processors in one of my previous posts.
  3. Praise the ability to communicate. Focus on what they say not how they say it. E.g., good listening, nice talking.
  4. Provide your child with choices (using real objects to represent your choices). E.g., do you want an apple or banana?
  5. Your child must be motivated and have a purpose to communicate. So, ensure you use highly motivating objects for conversations
  6. Provide them with opportunities to communicate. We need to teach children that if they want something, there’s a process that you need to have the opportunity to ask for it. We find that if parents understand what their child wants (without them asking), the object is given to them, and so there’s no reason for your child to ask.
  7. There’s this idea that we need to teach children eye contact. This is not always the case. Your child is unique, we do not want to take their unique skills away.
  8. Model words which are concrete. E.g., words such as ‘finished’, ‘more’. You can model these several times within the day. You can use a gesture to make the word more visual (see the images below). We know that autistic children are often visual learners.
Makaton fro "more"
Makaton for “more”
Makaton for "finished"
Makaton for “finished”

Credit: Little Dots Makaton, Polkadot World

Remember that if your child has speech, language and communication regression, it doesn’t mean your child will stay static.

It’s vital that you seek support from a qualified Speech and Language Therapist. We can tell you at what point in the communication development that your child is at. And we can support you through the process. We can provide you with an individualised plan specifically for your child to ensure you maximise their potential.

Contact me for help.


Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.

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Explore seven activities to encourage speech development in school-aged children
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Explore seven activities to encourage speech development in school-aged children

Explore seven activities to encourage speech and language development in school-aged children
Encourage speech and language development in school-aged children

We hear too often parents ask, “what do I need to buy so I can support speech skills at home?” The advice I give is to use what you have at home; you don’t need specific toys or equipment. I’ll give you some ideas so you can adapt them for your child or young person’s interests.

Ensure you know which level your child is working at (e.g., sound level, consonant + vowel, consonant vowel, word, sentence, or generalisation level). If you’re unsure ask your child’s Speech and Language Therapist. The more practice your child has, the better, so practise little and often.

1. Bubbles

Explain to your child that you will play a game. You’ll take it in turns to say their tricky sound and practise at whichever level they are working at/towards.

2. Pop up pirate or similar

Explain the rules of the game to your child (as above). You could stick a picture to each of the swords for variety or stick photos on different characters beginning with their tricky sound. This would be particularly helpful if they are struggling for motivation.

3. ISpy

This is a great game where you can involve the whole family and you can even play it to and from school. Choose their tricky sound and everyone takes it in turns to say “ISpy with my little eye something beginning with [insert tricky sound]”.

4. Hide and seek with words

Explain to your child that you will hide pictures around the room. They will cover their eyes and will be told when they can look. Then they become a word detector and search for the pictures. After they’ve found each one, they are to say the sound (at whichever level they are working at).

5. Name 10!

Your child will name 10 words beginning with their tricky sound. Your Speech and Language Therapist will be able to give you the words at the level they are working at.

6. Sound focused game – silly sentences!

Your child will make silly sentences beginning with their tricky sound. E.g., if your child’s tricky sound is /s/ a silly sentence might be ‘Simon sat on sizzling sausages this Saturday’. Take turns to create them. Allowing your child to hear the correct sound is important for their production skills.

7. Throwing a beanbag on the correct sound

Have their tricky sound and the sound they make placed on the floor. They can use a beanbag or a ball to throw or place on the sound which you produce. Explain what you expecte them to do. Use specific praise (e.g., you listened well).

You can adapt all the above activities to meet your child’s needs. Please feel free to contact me should you need any further advice. I’m here to provide support, reduce your overwhelm and empower you to support your child’s speech and improve their communication. This will in turn reduce their frustration.

Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.

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Learn why ‘watchful waiting’ isn’t the answer

Learn why ‘watchful waiting’ isn’t the answer

As a Speech and Language Therapist, I am a big advocate of early intervention. And I’m always encouraging you (as parents and carers) to seek intervention as early as possible. But you might be thinking, “my child just needs more time.” Have you ever wondered why early intervention is important? Read on to learn more.

Speech Therpaist in London
Watchful waiting is not the answer

Early intervention

By intervening at a later age or stage of development, you may be leading your child to develop consequences as a result. One consequence can be challenging behaviour due to their inability to express their wants and needs. They may have difficulty in understanding and following directions. This will not only affect their ability in the classroom but also socially, maintaining friendships. Early intervention can support understanding. This can also help you support your child in breaking down activities so they can fully take part in home and school life. The Early Intervention Foundation (2021) suggest that providing early intervention can develop a young person’s strengths. You can use these activities to support their needs which creates better outcome measures. This allows young people to reach their full potential across a range of settings. It can positively impact on mental health and self-esteem.n

Positive outcomes

Also, we are protecting our young people from harmful situations by giving them a voice. And by giving them a voice, they are:

  • more likely to achieve and
  • less likely to have in negative experiences such as crime and with the justice system.

We know that social and emotional skills (such as developing self-awareness, social skills, and emotional regulation) are crucial to a young person’s development. Research has found that children with a higher level of social and emotional skills are more likely to:

  • achieve in education,
  • graduate from university,
  • have career prospects,
  • have positive work and family relationships,n
  • maintain good mental and physical health.

By having these positive aspects in their lives, they are less likely to engage in antisocial behaviour and related crime. It’s easy to think this feels like a long way off for your family. But by giving them the best possible start, you are promoting a positive future in all aspects of their life.

Contact me today to get started with speech, language and communication intervention.


Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.

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Five ways to use books to encourage speech, language and communication for reluctant readers
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Five ways to use books to encourage speech, language and communication for reluctant readers

Reading can be a tricky skill to master for young people with speech, language, and communication difficulties, which may lead to reluctance in picking up a book. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use books to inspire and encourage them. It’s important to think outside of the box and take an innovative approach.

But before you do that, you need to identify why your child is averse to reading. There are many possibilities: is it that they have difficulties remembering what they’ve read; or perhaps they may have difficulties decoding the words, which is the ability to apply your knowledge between letters and sounds; or it might be that they are unable to understand the language used. Whatever the reason, it’s helpful to know. It’s only then that we can support their needs which may lead to greater enjoyment in reading.

A boy behind a pile of books on a table with hands in fists

Explore five ways in which we can encourage reluctant readers using books:

  1. Firstly, we could narrate what’s happening from the images and relate it to experiences that your child has had, which will make it more relevant. For example, when looking at a book with a cat in it, you could say “do you remember the time when grandma had a black cat sipping out of her glass of water?”.
  2. You could talk about what they think will happen next and make predictions. You could even make this into a game. Write your predictions on paper and see who is right.
  3. Draw images to identify the key parts of the story. You might want to create a story board together.
  4. Make a sensory experience, where your child can have a hands-on approach. See what you have at home, you don’t have to go out and buy materials. E.g., If the book is talking about a gravel path, you may have rice crispies; if it mentions the weather, you could spray water or have a torch for sunlight. Let your imagination do the work! This is also a great way to learn new vocabulary. In addition, you can also use a colour coded structure to support their expressive language (e.g., who? (the man) doing what? (is eating) to what? (an apple) how? (quickly) where? (in the park) when? (on Monday). Write out the different parts of the sentence with a picture for each part. So, your young person has a visual to learn from.
  5. Why not act out the story with family or friends? This really brings the story to life and allows your child to practise vital skills for attention and listening and social interaction such as turn-taking.

Make sure you use a book that is appropriate for the age and stage of your child’s development and adapt your activities accordingly.

Check my blogs for speech, language, and communication support.

Contact me and see if I can help you.


Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.

Explore the relationship between poor speech, language and communication and literacy skills

Explore the relationship between poor speech, language and communication and literacy skills

Communication skills are critical in all areas of communication throughout childhood and into adulthood. They are needed for understanding, narrating, making predictions and to develop social skills, for example in understanding everyday language or talking in the classroom or socialising with peers. Children with communication needs can experience low self-esteem, potential behavioural difficulties, lower school attendance and attainment.

Communication skills have a strong impact on literacy. Let’s look at some of the facts:

  • 50% of children with language delays also have challenges with literacy (Burns et al, 1999).
  • 73% of poor readers in year three had a history of difficulties with phonemic awareness (the ability to hear, identify and manipulate sounds) or spoken language in pre-school (Catts et al, 1999).
Speech Therpaist in London

The effect of expressive language on spelling and reading

The ability to read is very much dependent on competent language skills. Furthermore, a limited vocabulary will also have an impact on literacy skills. The more we know about a word, the easier it is to retrieve, recall, understand and use. So, if a young person has a poorer vocabulary, it’s likely that they will not have the same decoding skills as a peer with a richer set of vocabulary. By decoding we mean the ability to apply knowledge of letter-sound relationships including pronunciation of words. Decoding is a vital skill used in literacy.

Whilst learning to read is a key skill, it’s important to remember that a solid foundation is needed for success. We need to ensure that no steps are missed, otherwise there will be gaps in knowledge.

As your child moves further through the education system, they will be “reading to learn”. This is where young people with poorer language skills may show literacy difficulties (for example, reading comprehensions become more challenging, and their expressive language skills impact on their written abilities).

When should I seek advice or support?

Always seek the advice from a qualified professional such as a Speech and Language Therapist. You need appropriate advice for the age and stage of your child’s development and early intervention is of course key to success. It is never too late to ask for advice. The earlier you seek support, the better the outcome for your child in all areas (language, literacy, and emotional well-being).

Have you still got unanswered questions? Contact me here and we can have a look at your child’s phonemic awareness, auditory processing skills, verbal understanding and assess his/her ability and likelihood of reading and literacy struggles. If we find that your child has dyslexia I can refer on to a specialist colleague who can help you further.



Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.

Ten Top Tips for Parents and Carers to Encourage their Children’s Communication Development

Ten Top Tips for Parents and Carers to Encourage their Children’s Communication Development

A woman is looking down at a child in her arms

Read some of my top tips so you can make your communication as effective as possible. You’ll be able to make the most out of everyday opportunities to support your child’s speech, language and communication development.

  1. We need to go beyond the child’s needs. Think about their interests and what they may want to communicate. If they can express their wants, they are more likely to be motivated. Motivation is a big factor to ensure successful outcomes in therapy.
  2. Practice really does make perfect. So, 10 minutes twice daily is more effective than an hour every two weeks. To begin with, practise these strategies in a structured activity and then, when you’re comfortable, you can begin to generalise them to other contexts in your child’s life.
  3. Add an element of play into your communication. Make it exciting!! You could add suspense or anticipation. You could use exaggeration to add to the drama, or you could simply change the pace to add a different dimension to your interaction.
  4. Use the ‘wait’ from the OWL strategy to see if your child initiates or makes a request.
  5. Create a list of these requests that your child responds well to. You will be able to notice any patterns and create more of these opportunities to give your child more success.
  6. Talk about the rhythm in everyday experiences such as tapping your foot or describe the rhythm of the washing machine or dishwasher. Try to find everyday sounds in your child’s environment that you can talk about.
  7. Add a gesture to the sound or rhythm. We know that a lot of children are visual learners so adding a gesture will support their understanding and use of language.
  8. Ensure you look animated and this will encourage your child to participate.
  9. Learn to create opportunities for your child every day.
  10. Remember that we are not forcing our children to participate. We are simply making the activity irresistible. Above all, remember communication should be fun, so be creative!!

You may feel like you need some reassurance, someone to check in with to make sure you’re maximising these opportunities. Feel free to contact me.


Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.