Learning to talk is a complex process which takes time and effort to master. Most young children’s speech in the first few years is often unclear. This is very typical and a normal stage of their development. In most cases these difficulties will get better by themselves, however there are things you can do to help your child master the difficult task of speaking.

Developing speech sounds is a gradual process from babbling, to putting sounds together to form words and then sentences. Speech sounds continue to develop through early childhood.

Helpful tips to support your child’s speech development:

  • Phase out use of bottles and dummies. Children need to play and experiment with their tongue and lips to help practice making different sounds.
  • Be face to face and ideally on the same level as your child when you talk with them. This will help your child know what sounds are in words.
  • Don’t ask them to repeat back the word unless you really do not understand what they are saying.
  • Try repeating back the child’s words, using the correct sounds for them to hear the right production. For example, if they say “take” for ‘cake’, you could say “cake, you’d like some cake”
  • Keep background noise as low as possible when talking.
  • Ask your child to tell/show you in a different way if you are having difficulty understanding them. This may help to reduce any frustration and will support their confidence with talking.

East Kent Primary Schools can use Speech Link to screen your child’s speech skills in school. This screen also identifies interventions that can be put in place by the school and these can also be shared with parents to do at home. School staff can access training on how to support children learning speech sounds at https://speechandlanguage.support/speech/speech-in-the-classroom .  

As parents you can also access the Speech and Language Link Portal for online and downloadable games to play to help your child’s speech sound development.

How to support your child's speech skills leaflet on supporting your child’s speech sound development, and share it with their Early Years Setting or school.