Guest Post by Jenn
Most of the kiddos I’ve seen for speech and language therapy also have difficulties with spelling and/or reading and/or writing. And it makes sense that there’s a connection between a child’s verbal speech and language skills and their reading and writing abilities.
Children need to have solid foundational skills of verbal language (sounds, vocabulary, sentence structure) before they can successfully transfer those skills into written language.
If a child doesn’t have the background knowledge to know what a camel is, he or she won’t be able to make a lasting connection in their memory after sounding out the word.
Also, for children with multiple articulation errors, they aren’t going to be able to “sound out” a word to spell it correctly.
Home Speech Home has apps, activities, and word lists to help with speech and language development at home. Click here to visit Home Speech Home.
Speech and language delays are directly tied to delays in beginning reading and writing.
If you’ve looked at different beginning reading and writing curriculum, you have probably seen and heard the buzz words phonological skills, phonemic awareness, emergent literacy and phonics thrown about and unless you’ve had time to do a lot of research, they probably all kind of seem to mean the same thing. Although these skills are all related, they are different pre-reading skills.
Many beginning reading programs include phonics, which is learning that certain letter or letters stand for or symbolize sounds (or phonemes).
Emergent literacy simply means beginning (or emerging) reading and writing; these are sometimes called “pre-reading” activities. There are probably hundreds, if not thousands of free or nearly free games and activities to play with your preschooler to boost their blossoming skills in this area—just do a Google search or look on Pinterest.
One of my favorite games to play with preschoolers who can’t yet identify individual letters is to make a matching game out of the fronts of food boxes (like two each of rice crispies, brownie mix, jello, mashed potatoes).
They can “read” the box fronts by matching the pictures/words and if you teach them what each box front stands for, they will soon be able to fetch items from the pantry for you while you’re cooking!
Phonological skills are a subset of language skills even though it seems more like a speech skill (see this article for an explanation of the difference http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/language_speech.htm ).
Phonological skills fall mainly into these four areas.
- Rhyming/alliteration is enjoying listening to, matching and producing words that rhyme or all start with the same sound (alliteration).
- Syllables: being able to clap out and distinguish how many syllables are in a word (and along with that, separating compound words into two words).
- Words in sentences: understanding that language is made up of separate words.
- Phonemic awareness: phoneme means sound, so this means being aware that words are made up of separate sounds or phonemes.
Phonemic awareness is where listening skills become really important.
Phonemic awareness has four main components.
- First, being able to add, delete or substitute a different phoneme in place of another. For example, many beginning words are “word families” like -at: bat, cat, hat and so on. The ability to take the first sound off and substitute a new sound is really necessary for learning the words in the word family.
- Second, being able to sequence or distinguish and remember specific phonemes or sounds (not the letters) in the word, for example, d-ah-g for dog.
- Third, blending two or more phonemes or sounds together to make a word.
- The fourth main skill is isolating phonemes, such as finding all the words that start with the same sound or that have the same vowel sound.
If your child is struggling with reading and writing as well as speech and language delays, talk to your speech-language pathologist about working on your child’s literacy skills at the same time as their speech and language.
Some of the areas that Speech-Language Pathologists can target include:
- Phonological (and phonemic) Skills
- Reading comprehension/ inferencing
- Reading and writing efficiently and fluently
- Knowing what to write about/organizing thoughts
Regardless of whether or not you seek professional intervention for your child’s language and literacy skills, remember that the earlier you help your child with these skills, the more successful they will be with their reading and writing.
Jenn is a licensed speech-language pathologist and a homeschooling mom of six. Four of her children had Childhood Apraxia of Speech. She blogs at Whole Child Homeschool.