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Gesturing and wide vocab at young age vital for speech development

Friday 27th October 2017
If children are not beginning to form sentences by the age of three, parents and carers should seek speech and language therapist intervention. Image: santypan via iStock
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New research has identified key factors for parents and carers to look for in toddlers that could signal children are struggling with their speech and language development.

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has published a new report in conjunction with Public Health England showing that between seven and 14 per cent of children are unable to communicate effectively via speech by the time they start primary school.

However, the organisations believe that these issues could be ironed out if spotted earlier and treated with intervention from a speech and language therapist.

EEF highlighted that key signs to look out for include seeing whether children are gesturing to communicate, as a failure to do so could be a sign that they are struggling to express themselves.

In addition, the report stated children need to have a grasp of 50 to 100 single words before they can begin to put phrases or sentences together, so parents should encourage as wide a vocabulary as possible so as not to delay language development.

The EEF said that children should be able to form these sentences between the ages of two and three. If they appear to be struggling, speech therapist intervention should be sought so that children are able to start school communicating as well as their peers and do not fall behind academically, which is a major risk factor for pupils with speech development delays.

Public Health England and the EEF believe that early-years teaching staff should also receive training in helping young children to overcome communication problems, as this could help to prevent them from struggles later on in their education. In fact, the findings will inform updates to early-years literacy teaching guidelines that are due to be published later this year.

What's more, the report authors are calling for greater monitoring of children's progress so that any additional problems can be spotted and dealt with as early as possible.

Written by Martin Lambert

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