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The serious business of having fun with words – a blog from I CAN’s Director of Outcomes & Information and a qualified speech & language therapist

This week our blog is dedicated to our membership of the Read On.Get On campaign which is focussing on getting little ones ready to read by helping parents develop 2-5 year old’s communication skills.

All week we’ve been involved as part of the Read On.Get On campaign, working to help parents to get their little ones ready to read by giving tips and information on how to develop language, even in the earliest days. We have been answering queries and providing activities so that families can be inspired to make storytime anytime, so that our youngest children have the skills they need to read well, which means they’ll do better in life.

Though we’ve had a lot of fun and made new friends like Peppa Pig, it’s a serious business. Because we know that without the skills of speech, language and communication, children will fall behind and won’t catch up.

Many children are starting school with delayed language development –particularly in disadvantaged areas.

This means they are not ready to start formal schooling. Language underpins all other areas of learning – without the ability to talk, listen and understand, you’re going to find school hard.

The Read On.Get On campaign provides us with new evidence on the link between early language and reading, and a new analysis finds that a child’s vocabulary ability at age five is strongly associated with their reading ability at age seven.

In particular, it shows that children who experienced poverty persistently throughout the early years were much less likely to do as well as other children in reading at age seven.

It means that some children are starting school just able to say a few single words – not able to talk in sentences. They can find it difficult to sit still and listen for longer than a couple of seconds and can only understand one instruction at a time, so they find school a confusing place.

Put bluntly: You can’t learn to read without good language skills. Talking comes before reading. It’s not just a ‘nice to have’ it’s a ‘must have’. There are mounds of research that make the clear link between language and literacy. You need to be able to say, and listen to, speech sounds in order to work out what words say. You need to have a good vocabulary to be able to understand what you read. You need to be able understand our social communication rules to be able to work out what’s going on in a story….and that’s just the beginning.

We’re committed to helping all children to have the best start by supporting their readiness to read and readiness to learn. Because we want their futures to be bright – just what they deserve.

A blog from I CAN’s Director of Outcomes & Information and a qualified speech & language therapist